In the case of Mattu v University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire, the claimant (C) applied to set aside his dismissal. C was employed as a non-invasive cardiology and general medicine consultant and was suspended on disciplinary grounds. The trust arranged for him to undergo training before he returned to work, and C requested a six month period to be spent on research, possibly in the USA. The trust did not consider this necessary and rejected this request. C failed to agree to an action plan and eventually his conduct was investigated. The matter progressed to a disciplinary hearing, and C requested that this be adjourned. The trust had agreed to six previous adjournments and refused this final request. When the hearing eventually proceeded, C was dismissed. It was found he had failed to follow reasonable instructions and had acted in an unmanageable way.
C issued High Court proceedings citing breach of contract as the trust failed to adjourn the hearing at his request. The court rejected this argument.
C also claimed that his Article 6 rights to a fair trial were engaged because the dismissal prevented him practising his profession, and that the disciplinary hearing therefore "determined his civil rights", so that under Article 6 the disciplinary panel ought to have been independent (ie, not solely drawn from the trust).
The court therefore considered whether the disciplinary hearing did determine C's civil rights. C argued that dismissal would have the same effect as striking him off the medical register, or barring him from employment in a monopoly provider, namely the NHS. The court rejected this contention and found that C remained a fully qualified medical professional; his right to practise his profession remained. GMC proceedings would not be altered by the dismissal, and it remained open to C to seek employment in either a public or private body. At worst, C's ability to remain in his current employment was affected. But unlike the right to practise one's profession, doing a particular job is not a civil right, and is not protected by Article 6.
The court reiterated sentiments expressed by previous tribunals that dismissal by a trust's chief executive or other employee would not constitute an independent or impartial arbiter, as required by Article 6. However, as Article 6 was not engaged in the first place this did not affect the outcome of this case.