Poaching of university staff – a brief note

Posted in Legal issues on August 29th, 2019 by steve

IrelandMaynooth University have sued University College Dublin, saying that one of their professors was persuaded by UCD to move to that institution. MU are not trying to prevent the move, but they insist that UCD have acted illegally, and want the High Court to issue a declaration to that effect. Certainly persuading academic staff to change their employer is not as such illegal, but legally speaking there is more to this.

First, MU point to an agreement of 2006, between the chief officers of the seven universities, designed to cool down any developing transfer market. Each undertook to ensure that recruitment would be ‘open and transparent and on the basis of international best practice’, to be mindful of each other’s areas of strategic importance, and to look for possibilities for collaboration.

Second, Irish legislation requires that university appointments procedures be set out ‘in a statute or regulation’ (Universities Act 1997, s 25(1)); and UCD’s statutes and regulations, at least as published online, don’t seem to allow for simply approaching some likely lad/lass and offering a professorship – appointments must usually either be by internal promotion or by open competition (see here, here and here). Having said that, the circumstances aren’t entirely clear – if this case falls into some exception in the current regulations, then no doubt UCD will point this out in short order.

Both arguments are serious, though neither seems absolutely watertight. The 2006 wording is in many respects vague, which makes it hard to demonstrate breach of the agreement, and may even suggest that it doesn’t constitute a legal contract. Its duration is vague too – and it certainly doesn’t say it binds in perpetuity. Non-compliance with the 1997 Act may be easier to demonstrate, though some may wonder about MU’s standing to complain of this – Why should they have a legal interest in UCD’s employment strategy? And if the problem is the lack of a regulation to cover this situation, UCD could resolve that for the future very easily, by writing one. So as a matter of strict law, UCD may have relatively little to worry about.

But winning the legal battle may lose them the war. If UCD are under no legal restraint in poaching staff from other Irish institutions, and can shrug off any obligation to respect ‘international best practice’ as non-binding, then yet another front opens up in the struggles each Irish university must engage in. It is hard to see how the DES will be happy with that. Quite unlike policy in a certain neighbouring jurisdiction, Irish national policy tends to stress the need for third level institutions to complement and support one another; Ireland competes with the world, but not so much with itself.

The DES have already signaled that they do not want this matter before the courts. With the ministers openly calling for ideas to include in revised university legislation, and ostentatiously planning to beef up the powers of the regulator, this is not the time to be trumpeting a current freedom to act in a way that might be considered uncollegial. So universities must settle their quarrels between themselves, or have them settled by others – peace has to break out.

But on what terms?

The Blogmeister

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Universities set for High Court battle over alleged ‘poaching’ of staff member

Posted in Legal issues on August 27th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“One of Ireland’s universities is suing another third-level institution over the alleged ‘poaching’ of one of its academic staff. The National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) has brought High Court proceedings against University College Dublin (UCD) …” (more)

[Aodhan O’Faolain and Ray Managh, BreakingNews.ie, 27 August]

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November date in Cork for Judge McDonnell recusal appeal

Posted in Legal issues on August 13th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The Burkes’ request for a new judge to hear their religious discrimination case against NUI Galway will be heard by the High Court sitting in Cork on a date in November. The Burkes appealed to the High Court in June this year after Judge Petria McDonnell refused to recuse herself from hearing their case …” (more)

[Isaac Burke, Burke Broadcast, 12 August]

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High Court appeal lodged in students’ discrimination case against NUIG

Posted in Legal issues on July 5th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The religious discrimination case of the four Burke siblings against NUIG is headed to the High Court as individual notices of appeal seeking another judge. They are pursuing their High Court appeal to seek a different judge for their case against NUIG after asking Judge Petria McDonnell to recuse herself at the Circuit Court hearing …” (more)

[Paul Kelly, Galway Daily, 4 July]

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High Court application for recusal of Judge Petria McDonnell

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on June 30th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The Burkes lodged an appeal in the High Court yesterday against Judge Petria McDonnell’s refusal to recuse herself from hearing their religious discrimination case against NUI Galway. They are seeking to have another judge take the case …” (more)

[Burke Broadcast, 29 June]

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UCC wins appeal over disclosure of loan details to RTÉ

Posted in Legal issues, Research on April 4th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A High Court judge has overturned the information commissioner’s decision requiring University College Cork to disclose to RTÉ certain information about a €100 million loan agreement between the college and the European Investment Bank (EIB) …” (more)

[Mary Carolan, Irish Times, 3 April]

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UCC win appeal over requirement to disclose details of loan agreement to RTÉ

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on April 3rd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A High Court judge has overturned the Information Commissioner’s decision requiring University College Cork to disclose to RTÉ certain information about a €100m loan agreement between the college and the European Investment Bank. The Commissioner must now reconsider RTÉ’s request, made under the Freedom of Information Act, in line with Mr Justice Garrett Simons’ findings …” (more)

[Ann O’Loughlin, Irish Examiner, 3 April]

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Trinity student challenges incorrect conviction contained on Garda vetting disclosure

Posted in Legal issues on March 5th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A university student has brought a High Court challenge over what she says is the wrongful inclusion of a criminal conviction against her on a disclosure issued by the Garda National Vetting Bureau …” (more)

[Ann O’Loughlin, BreakingNews.ie, 5 March]

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Disadvantaged students need much better access to third level

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on February 14th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“In a recent High Court decision, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys vindicated a citizen’s right to access higher education and vocational training. It is both surprising and disappointing that the Minister for Education and Skills has decided to appeal this decision and is to argue that no individual has a right to access to higher education …” (more)

[Judith Harford and Brian Fleming, Irish Times, 14 February]

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The Government’s Right to Higher Education Appeal is Practical, Not Villainous

Posted in Legal issues on February 11th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“In a prominent September decision, the High Court ruled that Rebecca Carter – whose marks in a leaving certificate paper had been totted up incorrectly – was entitled to a timely recheck from the State Examinations Commission. Mr Justice Richard Humphreys made the ruling by identifying a previously unrecognised right – that of ‘reasonable access to available higher education and vocational training’ …” (more)

[University Times, 10 February]

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Analysis: Carter case appeal puts Government in a thorny position

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on February 7th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Should every individual have a right to access higher or further education after they leave school? It’s a question which lies at the heart of the Minister for Education Joe McHugh’s decision to appeal against key elements of a landmark ruling in favour of Rebecca Carter, whose Leaving Cert points were incorrectly totted up …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 6 February]

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Minister for Education to argue against right of access to higher education

Posted in Legal issues on February 6th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Minister for Education Joe McHugh is set to argue that no individual has a right of access to higher education in an upcoming court appeal. The appeal is being made against a ruling carried out last September …” (more)

[Sarah Moran, Trinity News, 6 February]

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Piano lecturer challenges CIT’s decision to dismiss him

Posted in Legal issues on February 4th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A lecturer at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has brought a High Court challenge aimed at quashing the college’s decision to dismiss him from his post. Brian McNamara’s proceedings against CIT, the Minister for Education and Skills and the State claims he was not lawfully dismissed from his role as a piano lecturer at the Cork School of Music, which became part of CIT …” (more)

[Aodhan O’Faolain, Irish Times, 4 February]

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Byne v Waterford IT [2019] IEHC 17 (22 January 2019)

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on January 29th, 2019 by steve

IrelandJUDGMENT of Mr Justice Allen delivered on the 22nd day of January, 2019. On 14th May, 2001 the plaintiff was appointed as the chief officer of Waterford Institute of Technology for a term of ten years. The plaintiff’s title on his appointment was Director but following the coming into force of the Institutes of Technology Act, 2006 the plaintiff’s title was changed to President …” (more)

[Courts Service, 29 January]

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Former Waterford IT president loses case over failure to reappoint him

Posted in Legal issues on January 23rd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“A former president of Waterford Institute of Technology, Prof Kieran Byrne, has lost his High Court action over the college’s governing body’s decision not to reappoint him to the post. In his judgment on Tuesday, Mr Justice Senan Allen rejected Prof Byrne’s claim he was entitled to be reappointed as WIT president in 2011 …” (more)

[Aodhan O Faolain, Irish Times, 22 January]

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Former WIT president loses High Court action over college’s decision not to reappoint him

Posted in Legal issues on January 22nd, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The former president of Waterford Institute of Technology Professor Kieran Byrne has lost his High Court action over a decision by the college governing body not to reappoint him to the post …” (more)

[Ann O’Loughlin, Irish Examiner, 22 January]

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Former president of Waterford IT claiming damages over failure to reappoint him

Posted in Legal issues on November 14th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The former president of Waterford Institute of Technology has claimed before the High Court he was humiliated and his reputation damaged after the college’s governing body declined to reappoint him to the post …” (more)

[Aodhan O’Faolain, Irish Times, 14 November]

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Former president of Waterford Institute of Technology sues over failure to reappoint him

Posted in Legal issues on November 13th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The former president of Waterford Institute of Technology, Professor Kieran Byrne, has claimed before the High Court he was humiliated and his reputation damaged after the college governing body declined to reappoint him to the post. The decision not to reappoint Prof Byrne as president was taken after a newspaper published an article concerning the level of expenditure of the president’s office during his tenure …” (more)

[Ann O’Loughlin, Irish Examiner, 13 November]

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DCU student settles case over exclusion for alleged inappropriate behaviour

Posted in Governance and administration on November 2nd, 2018 by steve

Ireland“A Dublin City University student has settled his High Court case over a decision by college authorities to exclude him from his course over alleged inappropriate behaviour – which he said could be explained by ‘cultural differences’ …” (more)

[Ann O’Loughlin, Irish Examiner, 2 November]

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Leaving Cert results, CAO offers and appeal outcomes to be released earlier following UCD student’s landmark High Court case

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on November 1st, 2018 by steve

Ireland“The release of Leaving Cert results, CAO offers and the outcomes of appeals are being brought forward next year. A major overhaul of the timetable comes in the wake of the recent High Court case …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 1 November]

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