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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

11 SEP 2012

Delayed disciplinary proceedings

In Lim v Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, the High Court held that there is an implied contractual term that disciplinary proceedings will be conducted fairly and without undue delay.

The claimant was a consultant anaesthetist. In 2007, complaints were made about both his conduct and his professional capacity. The trust decided to keep the conduct issues open until after it had investigated the professional capacity complaints. In the meantime, the claimant was excluded from work, later in 2007, and suspended by the General Medical Council after the death of a patient. The trust subsequently tried to call the claimant to a joint capability and conduct hearing, which the claimant claimed was in breach of his contract. In terms of professional capacity, the High Court agreed that it was in breach of the claimant's contract to refer him to a capability panel without first seeking guidance from the National Clinical Assessment Service.

In terms of his conduct hearing, the claimant argued that it was a breach of contract to resurrect allegations of misconduct that were by this time three years old. The High Court agreed that there was an implied contractual term that disciplinary proceedings would be conducted fairly and without undue delay but held that in the circumstances, the trust was not in breach of this term.

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