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Investigation Hearings

Investigation Hearings

Do you need to hold an investigation hearing before holding a disciplinary hearing?

It was held in Sunshine Hotel v Goddard that the requirement to hold an investigation meeting is not a basic employment right. As a result, a separate investigation meeting may not always be required before holding a disciplinary hearing in order for a dismissal to be fair.  

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) referred to the ACAS code which states:

  • “It is important to carry out necessary investigations of potential disciplinary matters without unreasonable delay to establish the facts of the case. In some cases, this will require the holding of an investigatory meeting with the employee before proceeding to any disciplinary hearing. In others, the investigatory stage will be the collation of evidence by the employer for use at any disciplinary hearing”.

The EAT also mentioned the case of ILEA v Gravett. Wood J stated in this case:

  • “There will no doubt come a moment when the employer will need to face the employee with the information which he has. This may be during an investigation prior to a decision that there is sufficient evidence upon which to form a view or it may be at the initial disciplinary hearing.”

The EAT stated that it is clear that neither the ACAS code nor the guidance in ILEA v Gravett nor section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 make it a basic employment right that an investigation hearing is required in every case separate to a disciplinary hearing. However, an investigation into the allegations will always be needed and, in most cases, this will still mean having an investigation meeting with the employee.

Also, employers should be mindful of any collective agreements in place or their own disciplinary policy which may state that a separate investigatory meeting is required. If you fail to comply with your own policy, then the dismissal is likely to be unfair.

About the Author

Rajveer Basra


Rajveer is a Solicitor who works in the Employment team.

She advises employers, senior executives,…

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