Kate Brooks
Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services
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Date Published:11 Mar 2016 Last Updated:13 Apr 2021

Do you need a lawyer to help you with your whistleblowing claim?

Employment Law Advice

If you suspect you may have a potential whistleblowing claim you may be wondering whether or not it is worth the cost of instructing a lawyer to assist you with the claim?

What is whistleblowing?

The objective of the whistleblowing legislation is to protect employees from unfair treatment that may arise from them reasonably raising genuine concerns about wrongdoing in the workplace. In essence, whistleblowing is where a worker makes a protected disclosure to their employer. This will usually be something they have seen at work, although this is not always the case.

Whistleblowing claims are never straight forward and the government recently updated the whistleblowing legislation, altering the requirements for potential claimants to fulfil before making a claim. In addition to this, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills have also issued new guidance on whistleblowing which requires claimants to be able to demonstrate that they have to have made a protected disclosure in the public interest.

What is the public interest test?

A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision held that whistleblowers must be able to demonstrate that a section of the public will be directly affected by any given disclosure. The key factor is that the whistleblower must reasonably believe it to be in the public interest.

Do you need a lawyer to help with my whistleblowing claim?

The majority of whistleblowers go through the tribunal process without a lawyer and a recent article in the Law Society Gazzette analysed the statistics. Their findings were that 32% of those who represented themselves in tribunal succeeded in their claims, whereas 44% of those with legal representation succeeded. This arguably suggests that a lawyer’s help improves whistle-blowers’ chances of success.

How can a lawyer help you to succeed?

Lawyers can of course advise you on the prospects of your claim and the realistic level of compensation that you deserve as well as represent you at any tribunal hearings. They can also advise you on putting forward offers and on the reasonableness of any offers you may have received. Generally, the majority of claims will settle before they reach the stage of a final hearing and for the majority of claims it is undoubtedly in both parties’ interests to reach a settlement as this achieves certainty and reduces the risk of proceeding to a final hearing.

You may remember our blog regarding the importance of whistleblowing and the recent risks that the public have been exposed to in the NHS due to whistleblowers being unable to speak up and raise their concerns. Whistleblowing is very important and if you feel a concern you have raised has been dealt with inappropriately or would like our assistance in bringing a whistleblowing claim contact me on Kate Brooks on kate.brooks@ellisjones.co.uk.