Bruce Carr QC successful in “Baby P” appeal to the Court of Appeal

Bruce Carr QC acted for Haringey Council in the appeal to the Court of Appeal made by Gillie Christou and Maria Ward, 2 social workers responsible for the care of Peter Connelly who died tragically in August 2007 whilst in the care of his mother. Ms Ward and Ms Christou brought unfair dismissal claims after they were dismissed by Haringey in February and March 2010 respectively. The Employment Tribunal rejected their claims as did the Employment Appeal Tribunal. They then took their cases to the Court of Appeal seeking to argue that their dismissals were unfair as they had, in 2008, already been disciplined (in the form of a warning) in relation to their conduct regarding Peter Connelly. They sought to argue that the principles of “double jeopardy” and res judicata applied to an employer’s internal disciplinary processes such that the ET were bound to find their dismissals in 2010 were unfair as they had already been disciplined in 2008. These arguments were rejected by Elias LJ, giving the judgment of the court, who held that disciplinary proceedings do not generally “determine a dispute” nor do they determine an issue which establishes the existence of a legal right. In those circumstances, there was no relevant adjudication and the rules relating to res judicata and abuse of process had no application.

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