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Police able to bring employment claims following Misconduct Panel decisions

P v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2017] UKSC 65

Related Member(s):
Karon Monaghan QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Public Law, EU Law, Employment Law, Discrimination and Equality

On appeal from: [2016] EWCA Civ 2

This case considered whether police officers are entitled to bring discrimination claims in the employment tribunal in respect of dismissals following proceedings before a Police Misconduct Panel. The appellant had challenged her dismissal including a claim for disability discrimination but this was dismissed on the basis that the Police Misconduct Panel was a judicial body that enjoyed immunity from suit.

The Court unanimously allowed the appeal and held that EU law required police officers to be able to bring employment claims in respect of dismissals following proceedings before a police misconduct panel. EU law takes priority over domestic law and it guarantees a directly effective right for all persons to be treated in accordance with the principle of equal treatment in relation to employment and working conditions. The Court held that the procedures under UK law must comply with the principles of effectiveness and equivalence, and the right to an effective remedy. If police were only able to bring a claim to the Police Appeals Tribunal and not to the employment tribunal, this would breach the principle of equivalence. Conversely, allowing police officers to bring claims to an employment tribunal complies with the principle of effectiveness in comparison to the remedies available before the Police Appeal Tribunal which are limited. The Court held that the Equality Act 2010, s 42, which conferred a right on police constables to challenge discrimination by chief officers and responsible officers, could be interpreted as applying to disciplinary functions by misconduct panels. This did not amount to the Court amending the legislation but rather it was a way of interpreting it to conform with EU law. The reasoning that EU law could not displace the common law rule of judicial immunity was held to be unsound, and the cases were remitted to the employment tribunal.

Karon Monaghan QC and Thomas Linden QC were involved in this case.

For judgment, please download: [2017] UKSC 62
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (3 May 2017 morning session) (3 May 2017 afternoon session) (4 May 2017 morning session) (4 May 2017 afternoon session)