Serious irregularities in a disciplinary process may justify an injunction

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As Lord Hodge said in this case, it is not generally appropriate for the courts to intervene to remedy minor irregularities in the course of the disciplinary proceedings between employer and employee. However, where the irregularities in the process are particularly serious, whether taken on their own or cumulatively, the courts may step in and grant an injunction, rendering it unlawful for the employer to proceed with its disciplinary procedure (West London Mental Health NHS Trust v Chhabra).

The claimant was employed by the trust as a consultant forensic psychiatrist. Shortly after her appointment, problems emerged in her relationship with her clinical team. In dealing with those concerns, the claimant’s line manager took advice from the trust’s HR director. Further allegations subsequently came to light that the claimant had breached patient confidentiality when travelling by train in the company of another doctor.

It was alleged that the claimant had discussed an incident involving a patient in a secure unit, read a medical report on a patient whose name and personal details could be clearly identified and, on another occasion, dictated patient reports. The trust suspended the claimant and initiated its disciplinary procedure…

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