In Mezey v South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust the Claimant had been suspended pending disciplinary proceedings, however, the suspension came a considerable time after the incident which prompted the disciplinary action. The Claimant therefore argued that there was no contractual basis for her suspension. The Court of Appeal refused to grant The Trust leave to appeal against an injunction restraining its suspension of the Claimant. Whilst The Trust accepted it was possible to restrain a dismissal it asserted that there is no legal principle which allows the court to restrain a suspension as it is “a neutral act preserving the employment relationship”.
The Court of Appeal held that in relation to a professional who is employed in a function which is more a vocation than a job, suspension casts a shadow over the competence of the employee and is therefore not a neutral act. An injunction to restrain the suspension was not therefore outside the power of the court in the circumstances.
This case highlights the importance of giving consideration to the contractual basis of a suspension. A contractual power to suspend will not be sufficient if the manner in which the suspension is imposed is not lawful. Furthermore, consideration must be given to the necessity of each individual suspension in light of the decision that it will not always be seen as a neutral act, especially if the employee concerned is in the public eye.
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