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IRFU & Ulster Rugby Must Comply with Employment Law Not Public Opinion

In light of the public and social media outburst of opinions about the verdict and evidence from the criminal rape trial the IRFU and Ulster Rugby are faced with a very difficult task to ensure that they comply with employment law in their review of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding. Regardless of the public’s opinion and the personal opinions of the panel that have been appointed to carry out the internal reviews, Jackson and Olding are entitled to fair procedures in line with natural justice and their Constitutional rights in respect their employment. Furthermore, the procedures must comply not only with the employment law of Northern Ireland but also with that of the Republic of Ireland, which are slightly different, on the assumption that the IRFU contracts are governed by Irish law.

The IRFU and Ulster Rugby should only consider whether or not Jackson and/or Olding have breached a term or condition of their employment including implied terms. Unlike in an office environment, neither Jackson nor Olding are required to interact with women as part of their duties of employment.

Furthermore, in relation to any allegation that they may have put the IRFU and/or Ulster Rugby organisations into disrepute by their admitted behaviour the following must be considered:

Whether or not the public likes it, the law requires that Jackson and Olding should not be victimised by their employers for being subject to criminal allegations which were not upheld.

If the IRFU and Ulster Rugby decide to subject Jackson and/or Olding to a disciplinary process then they will be required to:

Unlike the jurors in the criminal case, the IRFU and/or Ulster Rugby can be sued by Jackson and/or Olding if they fail to comply with their legal rights and entitlements in respect of their employment. Therefore it is vital that the IRFU and/or Ulster Rugby afford Jackson and Olding their legal rights and entitlements before making any decisions and not let their decisions be governed by personal or public views.

Anne O’Connell
1-3 Burton Hall Road
Dublin 18

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