Who? Nick Wilcox, partner at Brahams Dutt Badrick French in London.
Why is he in the news? The firm represented Alexander Osipov against individual senior executives in a landmark whistleblowing case. The Court of Appeal, in Timis v Osipov, upheld Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decisions awarding Osipov, ex-CEO of International Petroleum Ltd, in excess of £2m gross – one of the highest sums awarded by an employment tribunal.
Thoughts on the case: ‘[My client] made protected disclosures about bribery and corruption in the West African oil and gas industry and [his] employer retaliated by unceremoniously dismissing him. Osipov is a landmark decision because the Court of Appeal has held for the first time that individual respondents to a whistleblowing claim who are responsible for dismissal-related detriments can be personally liable for the employee’s losses following the dismissal. Until this decision, practitioners generally considered individuals’ liability to be limited to damages (usually minimal) up to the point of dismissal but no further, and to awards for injured feelings. The losses after dismissal, which are typically the largest head of claim, could only be claimed against the employer. This is a particularly important decision for Mr Osipov because International Petroleum Ltd has next to no assets.’
Dealing with the media: ‘We have a positive relationship and have supported investigative journalists to uncover unethical and unlawful practices, and in profiling our cases, many of which cover topical public interest issues. So we like dealing with the media!’
Why become a lawyer? ‘Practising as an employment lawyer at a boutique firm with a reputation for acting for individuals brings me into contact with clients from all walks of life. Every week is different and so is every case. Doing a job that combines such variety, while enabling you to exercise your social and ethical values and also providing you with an intellectual challenge, is rewarding in a way that I think must be unique.’
Career high: ‘Osipov is certainly one. Acting as we do on the front line of contentious employment disputes, there are frequent highs in obtaining great financial settlements for clients whilst ensuring reputations remain intact. With the ever-increasing regulatory focus in financial services, a clean bill of health for a client is ever more important and is very rewarding to achieve.’
Career low: ‘Interviewed for an insurance market publication a while back, I was asked a question to which I answered ‘Star Wars: the Force Awakens’. For some reason, it published no text but did print my name. On its own. Next to a photograph of a young Harrison Ford. It was all quite surreal. I heard that Harrison wasn’t too happy either.’