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Appealing to the Senses: Presumption that Appeal was for Same Reason as Dismissal

This case involved a maths teacher who was dismissed for capability reasons and who unsuccessfully appealed against her dismissal. Her unfair dismissal case in the Tribunal was also unsuccessful.

She argued in the EAT that the Employment Judge had erred in law by concluding that the dismissal was procedurally fair because there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that there had been a fair appeal for the following reasons:

  • The appeal letter did not set out detailed reasons for upholding the capability hearing’s decision to dismiss.
  • No member of the appeal panel gave evidence at the Tribunal hearing.

The Claimant argued that there was no evidential basis for a conclusion that the appeal hearing considered her appeal and that the Tribunal could therefore not have concluded that the dismissal was fair.

The EAT considered the following facts:

  • The Tribunal heard evidence from the head of maths at the school and the chair of the panel at the capability hearing.
  • There was no fresh evidence or any new arguments put before the appeal panel that had not been advanced at the capability hearing.
  • The Claimant presented both oral and written representations and was represented by her trade union representative at the appeal hearing.
  • The minutes of the appeal hearing were produced and were made available to the Tribunal.
  • There was no suggestion that the appeal panel was improperly constituted, nor was there any allegation of bias or improper behaviour of any kind.

The EAT held that the Employment Judge drew a permissible inference that the appeal panel dismissed the appeal on the same grounds, and for the same reasons, as those identified by the capability hearing when reaching the conclusion that the Claimant should be dismissed. They also clarified that there is no legal requirement in an unfair dismissal case where reasons for dismissing an internal appeal against the dismissal were not given for the appeal officer to give evidence at Tribunal. That this evidence is not given does not preclude a Tribunal from concluding that the dismissal as a whole was fair.