Chesterton Global Ltd & Anor v Nurmohamed & Anor [2017] EWCA Civ 979

Posted in: Case Law
  • Case Reference
    EWCA Civ 979
  • Legal Body
    England and Wales Court of Appeal (EWCA)
  • Type of Claim / Jurisdiction
    Whistleblowing (Protected Disclosures)
Issues covered: Whistleblowing; Protected Disclosures; Public Interest

Scott: That is a whistleblowing case, and it's the one that, I suppose, reflects the fact that it's not that onerous, the public interest test itself.

Mark: No indeed. A lot of practitioners, like we said, were looking at this case to say, "Okay. The courts are now going to give us a definitive definition of what the public interest is," and the court simply shied away from that and said, "Well, no. The focal point here is what is the objective, reasonable belief of the individual who is blowing the whistle? Did they reasonably believe that the subject that they were blowing the whistle about was in the public interest?" That's the focal point.

In this particular case, it related to a bit of creative financial accounting alleged by the whistleblower to bring the profits of the organisation down, which meant that the commission payments to hundreds of senior staff in the program would have been affected, and he genuinely, reasonably believed that that was in the public interest.

It didn't affect a great swathe of the populace. It wasn't on the news headlines, and therefore, when the decision came from the Court of Appeal and he'd won his case and they said this was a protected disclosure and it warranted the protection of the legislation, a lot of practitioners raised an eyebrow because it was only about 100 staff affected by it, and it wasn't necessarily an issue that's affected the great swathe of the populace.

So that sort of set the bar quite low from a judicial perspective in terms of where the protection kicks in for whistleblowers.

Scott: Of course, because the laws changed in Northern Ireland, that case doesn't set a precedent. It's an English case.

Mark: No.

Scott: But it would be persuasive now under the new legislation in Northern Ireland.

Mark: It would. It's a Court of Appeal decision, so it will kind of have sway here because that's the interpretation that a superior court in GB has given to a piece of legislation that has now been brought in. So yes, from a jurisprudential perspective, absolutely.

 

This article is correct at 11/01/2018
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Mark McAllister
Labour Relations Agency

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