Christou and another v London Borough of Haringey
UKEAT/0298/11 and 0299/11
The EAT held in this case that an employer will not necessarily
be precluded from conducting second formal disciplinary proceedings
against an employee in respect of a matter for which that employee
has already been disciplined.
The two claimants in this case were the team manager and social
worker responsible for the care of Baby P. Following Baby
P's death, Haringey's Local Safeguarding Children Board
investigated the claimants' conduct under the council's
"Simplified Disciplinary Procedure", which did not grant
power to dismiss employees. The outcome was that the
claimants were issued with written warnings for misconduct, the
maximum penalty under the simplified procedure.
An investigation into Haringey's child welfare services was
later undertaken. One of the conclusions reached was that the first
disciplinary proceedings had been inadequate, as they failed to
consider the more serious issues. A second set of disciplinary
proceedings was held under the council's full procedure, and
resulted in the claimants' summary dismissal for gross
The claimants challenged the fairness of their dismissals.
The Employment Tribunal held that the dismissals were fair and the
claimants appealed to the EAT.
The EAT upheld the Employment Tribunal's decision, holding
that it had been correct to find that Haringey should not be
restricted from instigating further disciplinary proceedings in a
situation where the new senior management had taken a different
view as to the seriousness of the conduct which had been the
subject of the initial proceedings. The previous sanctions
imposed on the employees were not sufficiently severe in the
context of the extent of the employees' failings.
While this decision confirms that the dismissal of an employee
for an offence for which they have already been disciplined can be
fair, employers should view the decision with extreme
caution. The EAT was quick to warn that the circumstances in
which it will be fair to instigate further disciplinary proceedings
will be extremely rare. It will only be in exceptional
circumstances that an employer can justify such actions, ordinarily
by reference to the fact that significant further evidence came to
light which meant its actions were reasonable.
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In October 2012, the Court of Appeal confirmed that a Service Provision Change ("SPC") TUPE transfer can only occur where the client who receives the service, before and after the change, remains the same (Hunter v McCarrick  EWCA Civ 1399).