There is generally no right for an employee to have legal representation at a disciplinary hearing. But there have been exceptional cases where public sector employees have been entitled to representation (under the right to a fair trial in the European Convention on Human Rights). Last week the Supreme Court, in R (on the application of G) v The Governors of X School, reversed a decision in one of these cases.

A school employee facing allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a child claimed entitlement to legal representation because the outcome of the disciplinary hearing would have an impact on later proceedings to determine whether he would be barred from working with children. The Court of Appeal had decided that since the disciplinary proceedings could result in the loss of his career, the right to legal representation applied. But the Supreme Court disagreed; the internal hearing before the employer and the barring proceedings are separate and distinct and the barring authority would come to its own conclusion, based on different factors. There was insufficient connection between the two for the right to legal representation to apply.