Whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work is to argue for the extension of whistleblowing laws during a landmark Supreme Court appeal on Monday.
The hearing of Clyde & Co LLP and another v Bates van Winkelhof is the final stage of a legal battle between international firm Clyde & Co and former partner Krista Bates van Winkelhof.
Van Winkelhof alleges she was sacked by the firm in 2011 after making allegations against the managing partner of the firm’s Tanzanian operation. Clyde & Co said it strongly denies all claims made by Bates van Winkelhof.
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, partners in firms, along with volunteers, members of the armed forces, officeholders and job applicants are not entitled to protection from unfair dismissal.
Central to the appeal is the issue of whether LLP members should be classed as ‘workers’ for the purposes of whistleblower protection. During the appeal the charity will make a 30-minute intervention outlining the public interest argument for a wider interpretation of the law.
The outcome of the case could set a precedent for how solicitors, accountants, and other professionals with LLP member status are treated in the future.
Cathy James, chief executive of Public Concern at Work, said: ‘The ability of all members of the workforce including LLP members to speak up about dangers or wrongdoing without fear of reprisal is important to protect society.'
Public Concern at Work will be represented in the appeal by John Machell QC, Jonathan Cohen and Adil Mohamedbhai, who are instructed by niche employment and partnership firm CM Murray LLP. All are acting pro bono.
Clare Murray, managing partner of CM Murray, said lawyers are among the most likely to be first to spot wrongdoing by corporate or public bodies.
‘But under current case law they risk putting their careers in jeopardy by blowing the whistle when they see that wrongdoing. That can’t be right or be in the public interest. The position needs to change and this appeal to the Supreme Court is an important step towards bringing about that change.
‘We are very proud to be part of it.’