Expert Insights

Latest news stories and opinions about the Dental, GP and Care Industries. For your ease of use, we have established categories under which you can source the relevant articles and news items.

07th October 2015

Implied Contractual Duty of Trust and Confidence v Written Obligations under the Contract of Employment

Contractual dutyImplied Duty

It is a well-established principle that a contract of employment is subject to an implied term that an employer must not, without reasonable and proper cause, act in such a way that is likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of mutual trust and confidence between itself and the employee.

Stevens v University of Birmingham

Under the facts of the recent case ‘Stevens v University of Birmingham’, the Claimant was employed by the Defendant to lead a research programme involving clinical trials, however such employment was dependent on his retaining an honorary contract with an NHS trust under which he carried out his clinical duties. The Claimant was suspended following allegations of breaches of good clinical practice in the conduct of the trials. He was invited to an investigatory meeting and was informed that he could be accompanied by a trade union representative or a university employee, in line with the ordinance setting out the Defendant’s disciplinary procedure. The Claimant argued that in keeping with the clinical academic conditions forming part of his contract of employment with the Defendant, he was subject to both the disciplinary procedures of the Defendant and the trust, and that he was allowed to be accompanied to the hearing by an MPS representative. The Defendant refused the Claimant’s request and the Claimant brought a claim before the High Court alleging that his rights had been breached.

The court decided in the Claimant’s favour and declared that the Defendant’s adherence to the literal terms of the employment contract in dealing with the Claimant’s request ‘amounted to a breach of the implied and overarching contractual term that an employer should do nothing to seriously damage the relationship of mutual trust and confidence without good and sufficient reason.’

Employers should be aware

Following the case of ‘Stevens v University of Birmingham’, employers need to be wary of a strict adherence to rules and procedures relating to disciplinary matters, or other terms of the employment contract. In order to avoid a breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence, the employer must be seen to act fairly, and possibly with some leniency, when making decisions on procedural requests made by employees in respect of their contract. If there is not a good or sufficient reason for the employer to deny the request then they should avoid doing so.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Oliver McCann

Napthens LLP – Employment Law Specialist

A highly experienced employment lawyer, Partner Oliver McCann acts for employers across all industry sectors, from owner-managed business through to large PLCs, as well as education establishments and charities. He has particular experience in advising employers in domiciliary care, leisure, retail, security, manufacturing, marketing, and the IT sectors. Read more

Join over 130,000 users already using the QCS Management System!
Start Free Trial Buy Now
Back to Top

Register here for your FREE TRIAL

  • Try our unique Management System, or any of our individual packs
  • PLUS! Gain FREE trial access to our Mock Inspection Toolkit
  • Over 2,300+ pages of easy to use guidance and 300+ policies & procedures

Simply fill out the form below and get full access for 24 hours to a QCS Management System of your choice.