Bentley Engineering Co Ltd v Mistry: EAT 1978

In employment disciplinary proceedings, natural justice required that a man should have a chance to state his own case and to know sufficiently what was being said against him, so that he could put forward his own case properly.
Slynn J said: ‘We deal with this appeal on the facts of this case. We do not say that in every case any particular form of procedure has to be followed. We accept Miss Slade’s submission that there may be cases in which cross-examination is wholly unnecessary, and that even other methods of achieving natural justice may not be wholly appropriate or required by a situation where an employer is considering an incident which has happened in the course of everyday work. On the other hand it is clear that in a matter of this kind, natural justice does require not merely that a man shall have a chance to state his own case in detail; he must know in one way or another sufficiently what is being said against him. If he does not know sufficiently what is being said against him, he cannot properly put forward his own case. It may be, according to the facts, that what is said against him can be communicated to him in writing, or it may be that it is sufficient if he hears what the other protagonist is saying, or it may be that, in an appropriate case, for matters which have been said by others to be put orally in sufficient detail is an adequate satisfaction of the requirements of natural justice. As Bristow J said, it is all a question of degree. In the present case, the industrial tribunal have found, as is indeed unchallenged, that the employee did not hear Mr Singh; [Mr Singh was the other protagonist in the matter] the employee did not have the written statements of the other witnesses, nor any written statement of Mr Singh; he did not have the chance to cross-examine. It was clear, as Miss Slade has pointed out to us, from the notes of evidence in the course of the hearing, that certain matters were put to the employee.’
. . and ‘The real issue here is who or what had provoked the fight, and we consider that the industrial tribunal are really saying that because the employee did not have these various statements, and did not have the opportunity of listening to Mr Singh or of asking him questions, he really did not have an opportunity of knowing in sufficient detail what was being said against him on the issue which really mattered.’


Slynn J


[1979] ICR 47, [1978] IRLR 436


Approved and RefinedByrne v Kinematograph Renters Society Ltd 1958
The court formulated the principles of natural justice: ‘What then are the requirements of natural justice? First, I think that the person accused should know the nature of the accusation made; secondly, that he should be given an opportunity to . .

Cited by:

CitedHussain v Elonex Plc CA 17-Mar-1999
The claimant appealed against a finding that he had not been unfairly dismissed. He said that the procedure adopted had been unfair, since he had not had opportunity to see the statements provided to his employer by independent witnesses of the . .
CitedStrouthos v London Underground Ltd CA 18-Mar-2004
The claimant had been dismissed after being accused of taking a staff car to France and having it impounded for suspected importation of cigarettes and alcohol above personal use limits.
Held: ‘It is a basic proposition, whether in criminal or . .
CitedKhanum v Mid Glamorgan Area Health Authority EAT 1979
In a domestic tribunal such as that a disciplinary hearing, all that is required is that the three basic requirements of natural justice be fulfilled; namely (1) that the person should know the nature of the accusation against him or her; (2) that . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Natural Justice

Updated: 02 May 2022; Ref: scu.347293