Breaches of a contractual disciplinary procedure may lead to damages

    June 2010

    A claim for damages resulting from breaches of a contractual disciplinary procedure can succeed, the Court of Appeal has held in Edwards v Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust [2010].

    Mr Edwards worked as a consultant for an NHS Trust. His contract of employment provided that he was entitled to three months' notice of termination of employment, and also set out a contractual disciplinary procedure which included a number of specific provisions. Those included, for example, that any disciplinary hearing would be heard by a panel which would include a clinician of the same discipline as Mr Edwards and a legally qualified chairman, and that Mr Edwards could have the benefit of legal representation at the hearing if he wished.

    Mr Edwards was summarily dismissed in February 2006 for gross professional and personal misconduct following a disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary hearing was not conducted in accordance with the contractual procedure, as the panel included neither a clinician nor a legally qualified chairman, and Mr Edwards' request for legal representation was refused.