The outcome of a University disciplinary investigation into a misconduct allegation has the potential to adversely affect the lives and reputations of all of those involved. It is in everyone’s interests that the procedure is fair and that all legal obligations are met and the respective rights of complainant and accused, protected. Sadly, in our experience, this does not always happen.
We are experts in disciplinary and fitness to practise investigations conducted by Universities, as well as in the associated areas of safeguarding and the application of the Equality Act 2010. Band 1 ranked in the major legal directories, our regulatory team acts for both students and universities in the course of disciplinary investigations and hearings concerning both academic and non-academic misconduct.
Students and Universities blog series
- Getting it right from the start: University policies for dealing with non-academic misconduct complaints
- The first crucial steps: How Universities should respond to allegations of misconduct
- How Universities should investigate a complaint under the disciplinary procedure
- Student misconduct allegations and the right to a fair hearing
- Appealing and challenging university disciplinary decisions: what students need to know
We often advise in investigations where the student or member of academic staff is accused of misconduct that may also amount to a criminal offence, such as allegations of sexual assault or rape. Where appropriate, we ensure that the interface with the police is managed appropriately and that the procedure followed by the University is fair and fit for purpose. In academic appeals we have had particular success in challenging awards through the mitigating circumstances route; in non-academic appeals, our approach to the evidence is meticulous and forensic, whilst the support we provide is tailored and nuanced, depending on the issues at stake and the approach of the University.
Depending on the nature of the allegation and client, the advice we provide can be drawn from our regulatory, employment, criminal and public law teams. Our advice extends to the process for appealing to the Office for the Independent Adjudicator and on bringing or defending judicial review claims of decisions made by Universities.
For many of our student clients, a key decision is whether to ‘show their hand’ and let the institution know that they are legally represented: whilst each case is different, our experience leads us to conclude that better results are achieved when the institution is engaging with a student’s legal team, rather than a student directly.
Should you have any questions, please contact our disciplinary and fitness to practise experts in confidence or call us on 020 7814 1200.