The case of Ramphal v Department for Transport, a Court of Appeal case which was set to examine the role of HR in disciplinary procedures, has settled. The case concerned an employee who was under investigation for suspicious travel expense claims, the manager handling the investigation was inexperienced with disciplinary procedures and received substantial support from HR.

The employee was dismissed and initially lost his Tribunal claim however he successfully appealed and the EAT highlighted several discrepancies between the manager’s first and final reports which suggested he could have been improperly influenced by HR.

The first draft stated there was a belief that the credit card misuse was not deliberate and the employee had given plausible reasons for the volume of fuel purchased (a “partly critical” view that would have resulted in a final written warning). Whereas the final draft held a belief that the employee had misused the employer’s credit card (a view that resulted in his dismissal for gross misconduct).

The EAT concluded that HR had done more than advise the manager on issues of procedure and law, and the level of appropriate sanctions with a view to achieving consistency. Had the employee won the Court of Appeal case it may have resulted in the role of HR in disciplinary procedures being changed and requiring a greater emphasis on managers being more able to conduct disciplinary hearings without much assistance from HR. Be advised, the Courts may look to examine this issue in the future.