Internal Disciplinaries and Human Rights26 April 2011
In the case of Puri v Bradford Teaching Hospitals [2011 EWHC 970], the High Court held that Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights is not engaged in respect of internal disciplinary procedures if their effect is not to deprive the employee concerned of the right to practise his profession.
The claimant was employed by the Trust as a Consultant Urologist until his dismissal on the grounds of misconduct on 5 October 2009. He was dismissed for rudeness but the General Medical Council did not impose any sanctions against him. Although it became difficult for him to find work within the NHS, he was able to obtain a job in private practice and it was found that it would not be impossible for him to return to the NHS at some point. The High Court distinguished the case of Kulkarni v Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Trust 2009 and concluded that “this is not a case in which the effect of the disciplinary proceedings has been to deprive him of the right to practise his profession, within or outside the NHS”. In the light of this, there was no need for his dismissal to comply with Article 6.
The High Court also said that, even if Article 6 had been engaged, it would not have been breached by the use of a disciplinary panel constituted of three members, only one of whom was from outside of the employer Trust. The High Court went onto say that fairness did not require either all, or the majority of, the panel to be from outside the Trust.