The law stipulates that you have the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative at a disciplinary hearing. See further articles in the Disciplinary Hearings category.
There are also certain circumstances when you may be entitled to be represented by a legal advisor, and a recent case that was decided by the Employment Appeal Tribunal deals with this situation.
In the recent case of Parry v Ministry of Justice the Employment Appeal Tribunal had to decide whether Ms Parry had the right to be accompanied and represented at her dismissal hearing by a legal advisor.
Ms Parry was employed as a District Probate Registrar and she was dismissed from her employment following complaints of bullying and harassment. She had already received a warning for the complaints previously.
Because of her position the dismissal was extremely severe for Ms Parry as it meant that she would undoubtedly receive further investigations by her professional body, which if proven could prevent her from working in her profession in the future.
Ms Parry had asked her employer if she could be legally represented at the appeal hearing and this was refused. When her appeal was unsuccessful she pursued a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
The Employment Tribunal agreed with Ms Parry that her dismissal had been unfair and that she should have had the opportunity to be represented at the appeal hearing.
The Employer appealed against the decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Ms Parry argued that she had the right to be represented at the Hearing because of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (or ECHR as it is known) is a provision which protects the right to a fair trial. This includes various measures including the right to representation.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal in Ms Parry’s case acknowledged that she had a right under Article 6 as there was a sufficient link between what the Employer was doing in dismissing her and the possible termination of her right to work in her profession in the future.
In this case the Employment Appeal Tribunal said that the original Employment Tribunal did not have sufficient information to make a full decision on whether Article 6 should apply to Ms Parry’s case and so the case was sent back to a new Employment Tribunal to consider the case again.
What does this mean for me?
If you face a disciplinary, dismissal or appeal hearing which could result in action being taken against you and this action could in turn have a long lasting effect on your career and ability to carry on your profession in the future then you should seek legal advice.
If you want your legal representative to attend the hearing with you then you should make a written request to your Employer stating that the reason for your request is your right to a fair trial under Article 6 ECHR and setting out the long-term impact on your career.
Nurse who faces misconduct charges will undoubtedly be reported to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, who may withdraw the right to practice as a nurse if the charges are found against them.