It comes after Atholl Souter, owner of Thursdays nightclub in Chichester, sacked his long-standing manager Richard Nye following pressure from the police.
The police said that the number of violent crimes had risen at the venue and Nye failed to report the incidents. As a result, the police requested “the immediate removal of the DPS Richard Nye and to prohibit him from holding any role relating to the premises management”. They also wanted to suspend the premises licence for up to six weeks.
The case, which was provided by Xpert HR, noted that the police “were not willing to compromise over the removal of the DPS”.
The Tribunal found that the decision to dismiss “was procedurally unfair”. It listed several reasons for this, including:
“The decision to dismiss was made before the claimant was invited to the hearing at which the employer was to consider what the outcome should be in view of the review application and the advice received.”
Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association for Licensed Multiple Retailers, said: “This case highlights the legal minefield retailers have to navigate to keep all sides happy – it is a thankless and impossible task.
“On the one hand we all know the importance of ensuring that we respond promptly to police recommendations – a review of licence and livelihood often follows if you don’t – but this ruling makes clear that you cannot follow it blindly. Even though the police and licensing authority agreed that this person could not be in charge of the outlet, rendering him unemployable, the company could not sack him. This puts policy and procedure ahead of common sense and the needs of the business.”
Licensing lawyer Michelle Hazlewood, of John Gaunt & Partners, added: “This is a question of stepping back when the pressure is on and looking at all the different things which could be effected by the decision, but if there is considerable pressure from the police this is very hard for the operator.”