Khan v Vignette Europe Ltd

Mr Khan was dismissed for gross misconduct for viewing pornography online at work. During the course of his claim before a tribunal he asked for an adjournment for a period of mental and spiritual purity during Ramadan. This was refused. He had known for at least a year when Ramadan would occur and he had not objected to the proposed dates of the hearing.

This was not a breach of his right to a fair trial established by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The tribunal’s decision was carefully balanced and considered all relative factors. The genuineness of his beliefs were not disputed but his right to a fair trial was not a trump card and the hearing was conducted in his absence. He could not appeal on the basis that the failure to adjourn was a denial of a fair trial.

– Right to legal representation during disciplinary process

R v X School and others 2010 EWCA Civ 1

The Court of Appeal has confirmed in this case that a teaching assistant was entitled to legal representation during the disciplinary procedures for sexual misconduct with a child. Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to a fair trial - was engaged and given the seriousness of the charge and its likely effect in ending R’s career, this included the right to legal representation in the preliminary stages.

The Governor of the school refused to allow R legal representation at the legal disciplinary hearing after which he was dismissed for kissing a boy. The more serious the allegation or charge the more careful the court should be to ensure that the trial process is a fair one. What matters most is the gravity of the issues in the case. Where the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings would be to deprive a person of their right to practice their profession, he should have right to a fair trial, from the outset which included legal representation.

Key point: Public sector employers should offer the legal representation at disciplinary hearings to those whose employability in that particular job is at stake.