0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

personal liability for whistleblowing unfair dismissal claims

23 October 2018

It is well understood that employers may be liable for whistleblowing related dismissals. Since 2013 individual workers have also been at risk of personal liability for their own actions, where those actions are taken in response to a protected disclosure by a co-worker, which causes their co-workers to suffer some form of detriment other than dismissal.

However, in the recent case of Timis V Osipov the Court of Appeal clarified that in relation to individuals a ‘detriment’ includes dismissals which in turn potentially places those individuals indirectly at risk of personal liability for losses sustained as a result of the dismissal.

In this particular case Mr Timis was one of the directors who recommended that Mr Osipov be summarily dismissed, because he had made a protected disclosure. The Court of Appeal here made a distinction between the dismissal itself and the ‘recommendation for dismissal’, which was itself a detriment directly leading to the unfair dismissal of Mr Osipov. As a result, Mr Timis was held to be liable for the loss of earnings sustained by Mr Osipov as a result of his recommendation (which exceeded £2m). The Court of Appeal was keen to point out that the extent of the personal liability of individuals for their actions, which cause co-workers to suffer a detriment, is not limited to actions short of dismissal.

This case places individuals involved in the dismissal process of other employees (e.g. acting as a witness, chairing the disciplinary hearing or, acting as investigating officer) at greater risk of personal liability. There is a statutory defence for individuals where their actions have been carried out in reliance on a statement by their employer that their actions shall not be in breach of the Employment Rights Act 1996. It is likely therefore that employees will be reluctant to support employers in respect of dismissals which may be connected to whistleblowing unless employers can offer the necessary assurance that their actions will not amount to a statutory breach. Clearly this will necessitate a careful legal analysis before the dismissal is carried out.

related opinions

Does a breach of an obligation in an agreement for lease allow the tenant to refuse to complete the lease?

A tenant who does not want to be forced to complete a lease if an obligation in the agreement for lease is breached must provide expressly for this in the agreement.

View blog

Brexit: Accounts and financial reporting – have you assessed the possible impact on your business?

Despite all of the media attention around Brexit, very little is being said about the effect of Brexit on the accounting and financial reporting requirements for businesses operating cross-border.

View blog

Extension to exemption from Tier 2 visa salary threshold for STEM and Mandarin teachers

The Government has announced that the current exemption from the £30,000 minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (General) sponsored workers in a number of public service professions has been extended.

View blog

Could suspension of an employee pending an investigation amount to a breach of their employment contract?

The Court of Appeal recently provided authoritative guidance on disciplinary suspensions including on whether the suspension of an employee facing serious allegations, pending an investigation, could amount to a repudiation of their employment contract.

View blog

mailing list sign up



Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up