Not-for-Profit Disciplinary Processes after Criminal Proceedings

Not-for-Profit Disciplinary Processes A well-drafted constitution for a society should include a robust suite of rules covering grievances and complaints, but even where comprehensive provisions are included difficulties will not uncommonly arise. That is illustrated by a recent Court of Appeal decision (which is the subject of orders “prohibiting publication of the names and identifying particulars of the Appellant and the Complainant,” and, as a result, this article is written to avoid infringing against those orders). Factual background to the Court of Appeal decision In brief, the appellant male employee of a charity was the subject of a decision by a disciplinary tribunal of the charity. The tribunal’s hearing was deferred until after a criminal trial, at which the appellant was acquitted on all charges of indecent assault and rape of the complainant, a female employee of the charity. Despite those acquittals, the disciplinary hearing proceeded. The appellant had argued that such a hearing would be an abuse of process, but that contention was rejected by the charity’s appeal body (with an application for judicial review of that rejection being dismissed). The disciplinary tribunal then upheld a number of charges against the appellant of sexual impropriety and physical, verbal and emotional abuse. The appellant had an internal right of appeal against the disciplinary tribunal’s decision but did not exercise it, instead again seeking judicial review which was refused and appealed to the Court of Appeal. Abuse of process This article focuses on the assertion that it was an abuse of process for the disciplinary tribunal to hear the disciplinary charges when the appellant had been acquitted on the criminal...