Workplace Report June 2007

Features: Law Contracts


Case 6: The facts

After one of her patients killed somebody, South West London and St.George's Mental Health Trust held a series of inquiries and eventually suspended consultant psychiatrist Dr Gillian Mezey from clinical duties. Mezey claimed that her suspension was a breach of contract and successfully applied for an injunction to end the suspension.

The trust was initially refused permission to appeal and so applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. It argued that an injunction was inappropriate in relation to a suspension.

The ruling

The Court of Appeal held that the court had been entitled to grant an injunction stopping the trust from suspending Mezey. It said a suspension is not a "neutral act", as it casts a shadow over the employee's competence, and there is no reason why a court cannot grant an injunction against suspension in the same way that it can order a stay of dismissal. Both suspension and dismissal are capable of being a breach of contract, it said, and compensation is not always a sufficient remedy. The appeal was not allowed and the injunction stood.

Mezey v South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust [2007] EWCA Civ 106 ([2007] IRLR 244)