Settle it sooner

10th January 2003 at 00:00
DIRECTORS and heads beware. Cameron Fyfe, the Glasgow-based solicitor, rides again. Fresh from doing battle over bullying and missing exam results, the man with a taste for fashion and litigation has turned to the use of detention.

The news that a 15-year-old Morayshire pupil is suing her local council for meting out excessive detention as a punishment for her behaviour makes us marvel that, in these litigious times, it has not happened before. How the courts will judge this is anybody's guess. If, as the girl claims, she was detained for "trivial" offences, the court will no doubt use the well-honed test of "reasonableness" in determining whether her detention was excessive or not. It is not detention per se that is at issue. As ever, it is a win-win situation for the lawyers.

The lesson in all of this is that schools have failed if conflicts become so entrenched that the courts are not just the last but the only resort. Moray, and other councils, would do well to lay on mediation courses to equip staff to settle grievances before they get out of hand. Everyone wins then - except the lawyers.

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