Disciplinary Processes – Court of Appeal judgment serves as a useful reminder of some fundamental principles

28-07-2016

Author: Michael Doyle



In a recent judgment concerning the lawfulness of a disciplinary process to which an independent contractor had been subject, the Court of Appeal neatly restated some principles that are fundamental to the fairness of internal disciplinary processes. These principles are equally relevant to disciplinary processes that employees are frequently subjected to. As judgments of the Court of Appeal on such processes are relatively rare, this is a significant judgment that will undoubtedly influence future litigation in which an employer’s adherence to these principles is considered.

Background

In Kelleher v An Post, the appellant, a former postmaster in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, sought to overturn the High Court’s dismissal of his action against An Post, in which he sought certain declarations, including a declaration that the termination of his contract for services with An Post was null and void.

The backdrop to the appellant’s dismissal was that his son had been kidnapped from his post office while he was on annual leave and, in order to secure his release, the staff of the post office agreed to hand over €105,000 at a 1 [2016] IECA 195 specified location to the kidnappers by way of payment of a ransom demand. The staff’s actions, while securing the release of the appellant’s son, resulted in a disciplinary process being convened in the course of which the appellant’s culpability for the failure of the post office staff to follow An Post security procedures was examined. Ultimately, the appellant was dismissed on the basis that An Post lost trust and confidence in him in circumstances where, amongst other things, he had left a post office employee in charge of the post office while he was on leave who had not been properly trained in An Post security procedures and, as a consequence, did not take appropriate steps to prevent the theft from An Post.

Read the full briefing here.

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