How does that joke go Why won't sharks attack lawyers? - Professional courtesy. Well he who laughs last laughs longest. We might have found it tough struggling with those shop floor barristers or barrack room lawyers but it just got better because it looks like we will find ourselves as HR professionals having to go head to head with the best the legal profession can throw at us. Up to now, we only had to deal with the amateur at least in internal disciplinary hearings where in the absence of any contractual rights our staff only had the choice of a work colleague or trade union rep.
However thanks to a recent High Court decision employees will; in certain cases; have the right to have a lawyer represent them. More seriously I am neither surprised nor disappointed with this decision of the High Court. What the court has said is that it would be appropriate for an employee facing discipline that could include the addition of his/her name on the register of individuals deemed unsuitable to work with children to be allowed to be accompanied by a lawyer at any internal disciplinary hearing .
The gravity of such allegations, added to the potential impact on the employee's future career including being added to the sex-offenders register mean that the employee should be entitled to legal representation at any disciplinary hearing but it also means we as the employer have to do the same
So welcome to the office courtroom I cant help thinking that this is only the beginning and before long any disciplinary outcome that has significant ramification to the employability of the individual will go the same way. Is it just me or are the only real winners lawyers who will get richer.