Legal Representation at Internal Disciplinaries

The case of R (on application of G) v The Governors of School X has clarified the extent to which Article 6 applies to internal disciplinaries.

 

In this case, the Claimant was dismissed by the School Governors for gross misconduct following allegations of indecent conduct with a 15 year old.  The Governors were required to refer the Claimant to the Independent Safeguarding Authority ("ISA") which determines whether individuals will be put on the barred list. 

 

The Claimant was denied legal representation at the disciplinary hearing.  He sought judicial review of his dismissal on the basis that his human rights had been breached as, in contravention of Article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, he was not allowed legal representation at the hearing.  The Claimant claimed that the hearing affected his right to work in teaching and he sought a re-hearing with legal representation.

 

At first instance, the High Court granted the Claimant's application.  The Governors appealed to the Court of Appeal.

 

The Court of Appeal determined that Article 6 was not engaged because it was the ISA proceedings, rather than the disciplinary hearing, which would affect the employee's right to teach.  The ISA proceedings were independent of the disciplinary process and there was no evidence to suggest that these proceedings would be unduly influenced by the outcome of the disciplinary process.

 

It was noted that where a decision in one set of proceedings determined the outcome of subsequent proceedings which would affect an individual's civil rights, Article 6 would be engaged at the first stage.

 

This case goes some way to addressing the extent of the application of Article 6 in internal disciplinary proceedings.  There was a potential for this principle to be extended by the Courts to cover more disciplinary processes; however, the decision in this case re-emphasises that the right to legal representations in internal proceedings will be extremely limited.