• In the case of R (G) v Governors of X School [2011] UKSC 30; [2012] 1 AC 167, it was found that Article 6 rights (ECHR) were relevant where a disciplinary proceeding in the workplace had a great degree of influence on a later decision by a professional body.

Facts of the Case

  • C, a male music assistant, was suspended from teaching as allegations arose that he formed an inappropriate relationship with a student.
  • C was informed to attend a disciplinary hearing as the school began an investigation into C. C was told he was allowed to have a union representative or a colleague.
  • C, however, was not a member of the union and so requested that he be represented by his solicitors. The school refused C’s request.
  • C alleged that the refusal of this request amounted to a violation of his right to a fair hearing under Article 6(1) of the ECHR.
  • The Court of Appeal held that Article 6 was engaged given the facts and that C was entitled to have a right to legal representation.
  • The Supreme Court allowed the school governor’s application for permission to appeal.

Issues

  • Was there a violation C’s rights under Article 6, where a decision was made to disallow him legal representation at the hearing?

Held by the Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court allowed the appeal and majority held that denying C legal representation amounted to a breach of C’s rights Article 6.

Lord Dyson

Elaborate on the judgment

  • His Lordship discusses the application of Article 6 and finds that where there is a determination of civil rights and obligations (defined in Ringeisen v Austria), Article 6 will apply.
  • The test of substantial influence was upheld, which was created by Laws LJ in the Court of Appeal. “In deciding whether Article 6(1) applies, the ECtHR takes into account a number of factors including:
  • Whether the decision in proceedings A is capable of being dispositive of the determination of civil rights in proceedings B or at least causing irreversible prejudice, in effect, by partially determining the outcome of proceedings B’
  • How close the link is between the two sets of proceedings;
  • Whether the object of the two proceedings is the same; and
  • Whether there are any policy reasons for holding that Article 6(1) should not apply in proceedings A. This last factor was taken into account by the ECtHR in Fayed 18 EHRR 393.” [68]

Lord Kerr (dissenting)

  • “It is important not to concentrate unduly on the various stages of the process in isolation from each other. And it is certainly mistaken to focus exclusively on an individual stage in order to determine whether it by itself meets the requirements of Article 6. The process overall must be fair.” [112]