Supreme Court Hands Down Judgment In Whistleblowing Case

Clyde & Co LLP And Another v Bates van Winkelhof


David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

A decision handed down in the Supreme Court could have significant implications for professionals working in Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs).

The landmark case focuses on a senior lawyer at an international law firm who claims to have been forced to leave the firm after allegedly “blowing the whistle”.

She launched a sex discrimination claim with the Employment Tribunal and also argued that her whistleblowing activities were ‘protected’ under provisions of the 1996 Employment Rights Act.

The Employment Tribunal found the solicitor could not be described as a “worker “ under the provisions of the 1996 Act because of her professional status, but the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that she was.

The law firm won an appeal against the EAT in the Court of Appeal. However this has now been overturned by a senior judge in the Supreme Court.

In handing down its landmark judgment, Lady Hale said: “In my view, the appellant clearly is a `worker` within the meaning of section 230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and entitled to claim the protection of its whistleblowing provisions.
"That conclusion is to my mind entirely consistent with the underlying policy of those provisions, which some might think is particularly applicable to businesses and professions operating within the tightly-regulated fields of financial and legal services.
"The appeal must be allowed and the case remitted to the employment tribunal to determine her claim under those provisions along with her sex discrimination claim."