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Education update

Jennifer Agyekum reviews the right to legal representation at internal disciplinary hearings, a case questioning the independence of the OIA and disability discrimination

6 February 2012

University regulations vary greatly with respect to a student’s ability to be legally represented at internal hearings, from express provision to express prohibition. This means that, more often than not, students do not have a contractual right to legal representation at internal hearings.

Recent cases in the employment sphere have provided some guidance on the question of whether there is an implied right to legal representation at internal disciplinary hearings through article 6(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights, which, as a consequence of the Human Rights Act 1998, universities as public bodies must comply with.

In Kulkarni v Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Trust [2009] EWCA Civ 789, the Court of Appeal considered that if an NHS employer refused to grant representation in a case which engaged article 6, the refusal would be unlawful. The judgment indicated that article 6 is engaged where an adverse finding would have a “potentially grave effect...

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