How many communications can make a protected disclosure?
What was the case of Simpson v Cantor Fitzgerald?
A public interest disclosure, or whistleblowing, is where a worker reports or provides information that shows in their reasonable belief that there has been a breach of a legal enactment. A worker who is able to show that they have made a public interest disclosure will gain the benefit of valuable statutory protections. In Simpson v Cantor Fitzgerald Europe the issue was whether a number of disclosures should be read together to establish whether they provided enough information to gain protection.
What were the facts of the case?
Mr Simpson submitted he had been dismissed for making allegations about the employer’s trading practices which included conduct he said was similar to insider dealing. He alleged that these allegations had been contained in up to 37 communications he had made. The employer disputed that he had made any protected disclosures and maintained that Mr Simpson had been dismissed for reasons relating to concerns about his attitude and the breakdown of his relationship with colleagues.
What was the court's decision?
It was held there had been no protected disclosures made as none of the communications relied upon satisfied the statutory definition. Whilst it was possible for separate communications to be taken together* so as to establish that a protected disclosure had been made it would not be appropriate where there were 37 separate alleged communications and there had been no indication made that particular communications should be grouped together.
Key takeaway point
The substance of a disclosure is more important than the form, so a communication couched as a query could amount to a disclosure of information if it had sufficient factual content. There is however a basic requirement that the communication contains sufficient detail of what it is alleged has been done and what it is believed that has breached in law. Detail can be added with further communication but the connection between the two communications should be made clear.
Do you require any more information regarding protected disclosure?
If you have any queries about protected disclosure, please get in touch with our expert listed below who will be happy to advise you.
Gateley Plc is authorised and regulated by the SRA (Solicitors' Regulation Authority). Please visit the SRA website for details of the professional conduct rules which Gateley Legal must comply with.