19 March 2019 - Article
At last! The Supreme Court has ruled that members of LLPs are 'workers' and thus protected by workers' rights, importantly including the right not to be subjected to a detriment as the result of blowing the whistle on wrongdoing. The real surprise is that the lower courts thought otherwise. I have blogged previously about the case of Clyde & Co
v Van Winkelhof in which a junior partner of a law firm attempted to bring a whistleblowing complaint. The Employment Tribunal said she couldn't because she was not a 'worker'; the Employment Appeal Tribunal said 'oh yes you are a worker' and allowed the claim to proceed; but the Court of Appeal said 'oh no you are not a worker' and that her claim must stop. At last the system has seen sense and ruled in the claimant's favour. The protection against whistleblowers being subjected to a detriment is an important one. People who dare to stand up and point out regulatory breaches, accounting frauds, misleading clients or investors, health and safety risks, or damage to the environment are deserving of protection. As I blogged before, I didn't really care whether the Court of Appeal decision was right in law; I simply thought those working in a modern LLP deserved workers' rights, especially now we know how important it is (particularly for those working in financial services) to speak up when they see wrongdoing. I am pleased that the situation has been redressed and that the Court of Appeal was, in fact, wrong in law.