Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust v Lairikyengbam - Ultra vires appointment did not prevent subsequent existence of employment contract [2009] EAT

An NHS Trust appointed a locum consultant in breach of the applicable statutory regulations. Although the appointment was therefore "ultra vires", that did not prevent an employment relationship from existing: the tribunal must look at the parties' conduct and all the circumstances of their relationship to determine whether or not it is one of a contract of employment.

Dr Lairikyengbam worked as a locum consultant for the NHS Trust, via a series of back-to-back contracts (of 6 or 12 months' duration) which ran from May 2003 until March 2007. At that point Dr Lairikyengbam was informed that locum contracts were no longer being renewed, and that having worked for the Trust for over 2 years he was entitled to a (substantial) redundancy payment. Subsequently the Trust advised him that his contracts were in fact "ultra vires", since under the National Health Service (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations 1996 it had no statutory power to appoint locums for any period longer than 12 months. On this basis it argued that his employment after May 2004 was unlawful, and probably "void", and refused to make a redundancy payment.

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