16 September, 2014
The case of Melik Camurat v Thurrock Borough Council addressed the issue as to what duty of care was owed to a teacher by their former employer when providing safeguarding disclosures.
Mr Camurat, commenced his employment with Belhouse Chase College on 01 June 2003. After three years with the College, Mr Camurat was promoted to Head of Languages. Throughout the course of his employment with the school, Mr Camurat was the subject of various allegations of inappropriate force used against his pupils.
Negotiations between Mr Camurat and the local authority responsible for the School resulted in a compromise agreement. Mr Camurat's employment terminated on 31 December 2008 with a termination payment of £28,000 and an agreed letter of reference. It was agreed that the reference would be positive, save for disclosing the fact that a final written warning had been given to Mr Camurat for the confiscation of a pupil's mobile phone.
Problems arose when the Police requested a chronology from the local authority of the disciplinary issues Mr Camurat had encountered while working at the School. The local authority obliged and provided the Police with the chronology. When Mr Camurat's disciplinary history was reproduced in an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate (ECRC), he was dismissed from his new employment and sought to claim losses up to February 2014, when the Police withdrew the chronology from the ECRC.
Mr Camurat raised various lines of argument in his claim against the local authority, but the two key arguments related to the duty of care owed by the local authority and the express / implied terms of the compromise agreement.
The Court decided that to impose a duty of care on a former employer of a teacher when making safeguarding disclosures would likely discourage those who would act in good faith when assisting the Police on safeguarding issues.
The Court also ruled that any term which introduced a provision into a compromise agreement that any safeguarding disclosure would be within the spirit of the reference would be unenforceable. The rationale behind this decision was that the duty to safeguard, particularly in relation to the protection of child welfare, should not be neglected and is paramount.
For further information please contact the Forbes Employment Team on 01772 220022 or email Jonathan Holden