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Lay tribunal members’ common sense approach to misconduct beats legal opinion in according to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).

The Government changed the law in April so that unfair dismissal cases are now heard by an employment judge sitting alone unless a judge orders otherwise. A move I roundly deplore (justice by our peers is an essential plank in our society – eroding it on spurious cost basis is a false economy). Now it seems the EAT agrees with my view.

In the case, McCafferty v Royal Mail the EAT had to determine whether the two lay members of an employment tribunal were right to outvote the employment judge and find that a dismissal for alleged misconduct was fair.

One hopes that this view will prevail within the Ministry of Justice and protect the place of lay magistrate panels who hear the majority of criminal cases that go before our courts.  Meantime, the onward march of summary justice by the police and lone District Judges will contine.

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