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Don’t underestimate the importance of ‘due process’

Posted
April 26, 2019
Employment Law

Sometimes, following the processes recommended by your employment lawyers can seem tiresome. Yet there is method in our madness. We are looking to protect you from the sort of problems that arose in the case of Radia v Jeffries International.


The facts


The claimant was the Managing Director of a financial services company. Whilst still employed by the company, he brought claims for disability discrimination. During the course of the dispute, the Employment Tribunal found Mr Radia’s evidence to be evasive and to lack credibility. This, in turn, led the company to discipline and dismiss Mr Radia because of the unreliable evidence he had given at the previous ET hearing.  


Perhaps predictably, Mr Radia then brought a further claim against the company in relation to his dismissal.


The decision


Mr Radia’s unfair dismissal claim initially failed at the Employment Tribunal stage, before he took his case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.  There, he was allowed to pursue two lines of argument:


1. That the company should have conducted an investigation into the allegations against him, rather than proceeding straight to a disciplinary hearing; and

2. That he should have been given the chance to appeal the decision to dismiss him.


The EAT agreed with the ET’s decision in relation to the lack of an investigation. It pointed out that there was no strict requirement for a separate investigatory stage and it was open to the ET to conclude, on the facts of the case, that no investigation was necessary. However, in relation to the lack of appeal, the outcome was rather different.  The ET had concluded that the lack of an appeal made no difference to the outcome and the fairness of the dismissal. The EAT felt there was insufficient evidence to substantiate this finding and concluded that the dismissal was unfair.


So what?


This case underlines the lottery of legal proceedings.  On a given day, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  Accurately predicting which arguments will succeed and which will fail can be very difficult.  So why give hostages to fortune?  Tick each procedural box and you significantly reduce the risk of disputes arising in the first place.

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