News and Insights
1 August 2023
In this case the Royal Court addressed the question of whether judicial review is available in employment matters where the employer is a public body. It addresses the distinction between public and private law and the fact that employment law protections only go so far.
The Applicant was employed by the States Employment Board (“SEB”) for only a matter of weeks, as a Covid adviser. Her employment was ended with immediate effect on 24 May 2022 on misconduct grounds. The Applicant's dismissal was seemingly unfair as she had no opportunity to prepare for or respond to the allegations. The 3 week period of employment meant that the Applicant had no protection from unfair dismissal under the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003, in relation to which the standard qualifying period of continuous employment is 1 year.
The Applicant applied for leave to apply for judicial review with the relief or remedy sought being the quashing of the decision dismissing the Applicant and her reinstatement as an employee of the SEB. The Applicant argued that the termination could be subject to judicial review because the SEB is a public body.
The Royal Court refused the application for leave. It held:
“The fact that the Respondent is a public law body does not make this a public law case. Had the Respondent not been a public law body and the actions complained of been taken by a private company, for example, there would have been no question of a judicial review.
[There] are not sufficient features in this case or a sufficient public law element such as the Court should assume jurisdiction to conduct a judicial review. No matter how the Respondent has behaved towards the Applicant, the relationship between them does not possess the public law element which is essential to justify an application for judicial review.”
This decision helps to clarify a boundary between public and private law disputes in terms of employment cases involving public bodies: the mere presence of a public body does not necessarily mean that a case is a public law matter or justify judicial review.
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