Notes on Appeal Hearings
- An appeal can be conducted either by way of a review (where the manager hearing the appeal is simply checking to ensure that the initial decision was handled properly) or re hearing (where the manager hearing the appeal looks at matters afresh and comes to his own judgment on what should happen);
- It is always safer to follow the second course because it is perceived to be fairer by the employment tribunal and there is a better chance that errors or injustices will be put right or “cured”;
- This means that the person hearing the appeal (“the chairman”) should, prior to the hearing;
- Consider the appeal letter;
- Read the company’s disciplinary and appeal procedure;
- Review the file and in particular the previous correspondence;
- Speak to the manager who made the original decision to understand why things were done as they were;
- Conduct a hearing at which the employee is allowed to explain why, in his view, the appeal should be upheld;
- The chairman may deal with the employee’s arguments as they arise or take time for reflection after the hearing;
- Conduct follow up queries as necessary;
- Check to ensure that the Company’s appeal procedure has been followed; and
- Confirm his decision to the employee in writing as soon as reasonably practicable following the meeting.
- Ideally, the chairman should have had no prior involvement with the case before the appeal stage. He or she should also be more senior than the manager whose decision is being appealed so that he has the power to overturn it;
- The employee should be allowed a companion (a work colleague or a trade union official) at the hearing if they so request;
- Aside from the chairman, someone from the company should be present to take a note of what is said. A minute of the meeting should be produced and the employee asked to sign it to confirm that it is accurate;
- The dismissing manager could attend at the appeal meeting to explain his decision but this is not strictly necessary, especially if the chairman has been briefed beforehand as suggested above;
- So far as possible the hearing should be conducted in discussion format. The employee should be encouraged to spell out and elaborate on the reasons why he/she considers her treatment to have been unfair. In this way the chairman will have a chance to respond to all relevant complaints and criticisms;
- The chairman should understand that any notes made and any emails and correspondence sent (other than to legal advisors) in connection with the appeal will be discloseable documents in any subsequent tribunal claim which the employee may bring, so very great care should be taken to avoid committing anything prejudicial to writing which may be used against the company in due course.
25 June 2012
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© Girlings Solicitors 2012
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