In Sakar v West London Health NHS Trust [2010] IRLR 508 the Court of Appeal reinstates the Employment Tribunal’s ruling that it was unfair to dismiss a consultant psychiatrist following complaints of harassment and distressing conduct when those complaints had initially been dealt with under the Trust’s “fair blame policy”. The Court of Appeal, unlike the EAT which had allowed the appeal, ruled that the Tribunal had been entitled to conclude that dismissal was outside the range of reasonable responsible because the use of this policy implied that in the Trust’s view that conduct was of a relatively minor nature and therefore the dismissal could not subsequently be justified on grounds of gross misconduct. 

However, it should always be remembered that in unfair dismissal cases, each case turns on its own facts and that the position may have been different if the Trust had made it clear beforehand that it regarded the allegations as potentially amounting to gross misconduct rather than seeking to escalate the matter by insisting, as part of the dispute resolution, that it be reported to the GMC.

Summary by Anthony Korn