Whistleblowing – a new meaning?

17 July

 

In an important and long-awaited decision, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that it is possible for employees who make disclosures about internal issues which are in their own personal interests can satisfy the legal definition of whistleblowing.

 

In Chesterton Global v Nurmohamed, the Claimant had been employed by an estate agency and discovered that the company’s internal accounts had been manipulated to the benefit of its shareholders. He made several reports to senior management about the issue and was subsequently dismissed. He brought a claim for automatic unfair dismissal on the basis that he had made a “protected disclosure”, i.e. blown the whistle, and been dismissed because of this.

 

The employer argued that the disclosure made by the Claimant before his dismissal did not amount to blowing the whistle because it related to a private internal matter and was not made in the public interest, which is a requirement in whistleblowing cases.

 

The case eventually found its way to the Court of Appeal, which held that such disclosures could be in the public interest if they affected sufficient numbers of employees, involved large sums of money or involved serious wrongdoing.

 

This was an important decision because it has confirmed a wider definition of whistleblowing. Whistleblowing claims are increasingly being used by workers to overcome the need to have two years’ service with an employer to bring an ordinary unfair dismissal claim. Whistleblowing-related dismissal claims do not have this requirement, and there is also no cap on the amount of compensation which an Employment Tribunal can award to a whistleblower who has been subjected to this type of detriment.

 

If you would like more information on this or a related topic, please contact the Employment and HR team.

 

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