Much has been made of the recent Court of Appeal
decision relating to the dismissal of Sharon Shoesmith from her
post as director of Haringey Children's Services. A post in
which she earned £133,000 a year.
It is widely reported that she hopes to receive at least
£1m in compensation following the judgment.
The then home secretary, Ed Balls, announced the removal of Miss
Shoesmith from her role at a live television press conference,
following the death of 'baby P' in Haringey.
Ofsted had investigated and reported on Haringey Children's
Services and identified among other failings "insufficient
strategic leadership and management oversight".
Although we may yet see an appeal to the Supreme Court by the
Secretary of State, the Court of Appeal's ruling has
re-asserted some important fundamental lessons for HR professionals
There was little denial that there were grounds to remove Ms
Shoesmith from her post. The appeal has been won on the basis that
the dismissal was procedurally unfair. It was found that no proper
and fair procedures had been followed, and Ms Shoesmith was
essentially sacked without having been given the right to put her
The argument that it is entirely likely that she would have been
dismissed in any event holds little sway. Without proper procedure
and the right to reply, the dismissal is unfair. As such, the
compensation sought reflects the prospect that Ms Shoesmith
shouldn't have been dismissed at all. Whether the level of
compensation should be reduced will now be considered by the High
The concept of procedural fairness in dismissals is also an
important element of Guernsey's Unfair Dismissal
In considering whether a dismissal was unfair, the Tribunal in
Guernsey will take into account the 'Commerce and Employment
Department's Code of Practice on Disciplinary Practice and
Procedures in Employment' which states, among other
"Before a decision is made or penalty imposed, the
individual should be interviewed and given the opportunity to state
his or her case..."
In short, when considering terminating the employment of an
individual on disciplinary grounds, no matter how strong those
grounds are, a fair and thorough process must be followed.
If your organisation does not have defined disciplinary
procedures that comply with Guernsey's procedural requirements,
they should consider developing some. That said, a procedure can
never effectively deal with every situation that arises. In any
more complex situation, seeking legal advice might prevent hasty,
and costly, action.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
On 1 January 2017 the Financial Services Rule Book 2016 comes into operation. With this will be the requirement on all Isle of Man licence holders to establish, implement and maintain an effective whistleblowing policy.
The Ministry of Human Resources has recently issued a string of new ministerial resolutions and decrees designed to address gaps in the employment regulatory framework and reinforce existing legislation...
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).