Employment Law Solutions. Expert advice... more personal

Suspension is not a neutral act

The High Court in the case of Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth has held that the suspension of a teacher amounted to a repudiatory breach of contract which entitled her to resign.


The Claimant was a teacher for the London Borough of Lambeth. Two pupils in her class exhibited extremely challenging behavioural issues and the school was in the process of putting in place support to help deal with the issues.

Around this time, allegations were made that the Claimant had used unreasonable force against one of the children. The Claimant was informed by the Executive Head Teacher that, in light of the allegations, she would be suspended. The suspension letter that followed stated that the suspension was a neutral act with the purpose of allowing investigations to be conducted fairly. It also stated that she would continue to receive normal pay.

The Claimant resigned on the same day as the suspension. She brought a claim for breach of contract (as she did not have the requisite 2 years’ service to bring a constructive unfair dismissal claim) on the basis that the suspension was a repudiatory breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.

The Decision

The County Court held that London Borough of Lambeth was “bound” to suspend the Claimant after receiving the allegations against her as it had an overriding duty to protect children. The Claimant appealed.

The High Court allowed the appeal. The County Court’s finding that there was reasonable cause for the Claimant to be suspended because of its overriding duty to protect children could not stand because the actual reason given to the Claimant for her suspension was “to ensure fair investigation”.

Furthermore, it is established case law that suspension is not a neutral act and should not be a “knee jerk reaction” particularly in professional occupations where the act of suspension can cause damage to a person’s reputation. Before suspending the Claimant the employer should have:

  • Spoken to her to ascertain her views on the allegations;
  • Considered any appropriate alternatives to suspension; and
  • Given time for the teaching support to be put in place.


An employer should always be satisfied that it has reasonable cause for suspension. Careful consideration should always be given as to the reasons and purpose of the suspension and such consideration should be fully documented. It is advisable to have an express right to suspend employees in contracts of employment.

Failure to do the above led the High Court to conclude that suspension was a “knee jerk” reaction which was sufficient to breach the implied term of trust and confidence in her contract of employment.

If you would like to speak to us about suspension or investigations please feel free to email us  or contact us on 0191 282 2880 for a no obligation chat.

This entry was posted in Law. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.