This thesis critically analyses the equity of disciplinary procedures for public employees in Kuwait. In particular, it examines the degree to which current arrangements and legal provisions facilitate and guarantee, natural justice and due process in the context of employment in general, and in relation to whistleblowing in particular. The research evaluates comparative jurisdictions in order to highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of the existing provision in Kuwait.
This thesis further examines the relationship between the disciplinary measure for public employees in Kuwait and their duties to whistle-blow when necessary, and to this end it provides an overview of parallel developments in historical and closely linked Arab and Western countries (i.e. UAE, Egypt, UK, and France,) with a view of evaluating the strengths and shortcomings of existing Kuwaiti provisions. Emphasis is placed on the government sector, with the aim of highlighting its deficiencies and limitations, and subsequently proposing a means by which these can be rectified, leading to improved performance within the public services. This study provides a broad outline of the current disciplinary systems, along with the duty of whistleblowing, in order to identify the various legal concepts operating within the public services in the above-mentioned countries.
Particular focus is given on the law of Whistleblowing in Kuwait, requiring the disclosure of information in instances of corruption. In particular this thesis examines the potential conflict between the Whistleblowing Law and Article 25(5) of the Kuwait Civil Service law no. 15 of 1979, which prohibited public employees from disclosing confidential information. This current study aims to understand, question, and draw suggestions from both laws, with the overall aim to improve the current disciplinary system in Kuwait. A detailed literature review suggests that disciplinary procedures relating to public employees in Kuwait mirror incremental developments to other linked Arab states which essentially consist of a mix of legal provisions ranging from constitutional provisions, case law, and administrative arrangements. Such provisions, however, relate either to citizens generally or to public employees in particular and are not framed in an employment law context and therefore may not be sufficiently adaptable to respond to a rapidly changing employment law context and may lag behind legitimate employee expectations. This thesis, therefore, considers the benefit of framing disciplinary procedures within a natural law framework and the compatibility of the concept to Islamic principles.
The conceptual discussion in this thesis is also supplemented by empirical evidence relevant to the essential issues that are needed to be considered when regulating the disciplinary provisions applicable to public employees. A questionnaire has been administered to gain concrete opinion of employees about the current legal framework in Kuwait. A representative sample of fifty public sector employees in the State of Kuwait were interviewed, and further discussions were undertaken with a number of key and senior employees working at the Ministry of Justice and the Kuwait National Assembly (i.e. the Kuwaiti Parliament). These employees all had substantial experience from the disciplinary system in Kuwait, along with the duty to whistle-blow. The mixed methodology methods utilised in this thesis, deals with the rationale for establishing specific disciplinary rules for public employees, and the main principles of natural justice by which employers should abide. Reform under the Kuwait’s civil service law is needed to incorporate principles of justice and fairness to all employees, regardless of rank differences because although employment in the public sector in Kuwait can provide for a very attractive and rewarding career it paradoxically, as highlighted this study, can also lead to individuals feeling trapped and vulnerable because of the pervasive and hierarchical nature of existing disciplinary procedures within the public service. It may also contribute indirectly to the prevalence of public employee lethargy.
This thesis concludes with a summary of results, followed by a number of recommendations including the need for a specialist Court, aimed at improving the regulations used in the disciplinary and whistleblowing system of Kuwait. The study highlights the need for reform since it provides evidence to suggest that existing disciplinary procedures are perhaps overused and applied inconsistently.