A very good example of a small textbook covering best practice and including well-honed cross-examination techniques.
As an employment lawyer, I was intrigued by the title and imagined that it would give pointers on how to ensure employers do not fall foul of Acas guidelines. I envisaged that it would cover the requirement to comply with internal procedures, and that it would encompass the legal requirement to carry out a thorough, fair and objective investigation.
But this book is not about procedure, or about employment law in practice. It is exclusively about carrying out a thorough investigation. The taught investigation method explains the dangers of making assumptions, the requirement to be focused and analytical, and the need to ensure all relevant points are covered. It stresses the importance of remaining professional and courteous, ensuring you retain an appropriate, not brusque or irritated, tone while delving into the answers provided.
The author recommends two investigators at each meeting and that they keep to a checklist. If the meeting is not taped, then a third person should take notes. Importantly, those are to be legible, and both checked and agreed by the interviewee at the end of the meetings.
It is not an employment handbook but a very good example of a small textbook covering best practice and including well-honed cross-examination techniques, as developed by an experienced advocate. It will be useful for the HR managers, investigative officers and practitioners who want to improve advocacy skills.
My only concern is that the investigative process should not cause employees to feel uncomfortable. With the implied term of trust and confidence in mind, the investigating managers should be cautious about interrogating with too much vigour. At the investigative stage, no guilt can be presumed and relationships should not be damaged by the thoroughness of the internal process.
Nonetheless, this is a very good pocket-size guide for the budding Perry Mason.
Liz Whitehead is a senior solicitor at Hart Brown