Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of c UKEAT/0058/17/DA the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that two non-executive directors who were materially involved in the dismissal of a whistleblowing employee were personally liable for for their part in the dismissal.

Summary

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an Employment Tribunal’s decision that two non-executives who were materially involved in the dismissal of an employee because he had ‘blown the whistle’ were personally liable for the dismissal and, further, jointly and severally liable with the employer for the employee’s losses flowing from the dismissal.

The consequences of this decision are that senior management dismissing employees because of protected disclosures the employee has made (and any other employee involved in the decision to dismiss) could be personally liable for the dismissal, as well as the financial losses that the dismissed employee suffers.

The facts in International Petroleum Ltd & Ors v Osipov & Ors

International Petroleum Limited (“IPL”) was an oil and gas company involved in oil and gas exploration in Niger. Mr Osipov commenced employment with IPL on 23 February 2011 and was appointed to the position of CEO in June 2014; shortly after this Mr Osipov submitted a number of protected disclosures (colloquially known as ‘blowing the whistle’) which he alleged led to certain detriments to him including, eventually, his dismissal by Mr Timis and Mr Sage (two non-executive directors of IPL).

Subsequent to his dismissal Mr Osipov brought Employment Tribunal claims against Mr Timis, Mr Sage, and IPL for unfair dismissal, detriment due to protected disclosure, and automatic unfair dismissal (essentially a complaint that he had been dismissed because he had made protected disclosures).

The Employment Tribunal upheld Mr Osipov’s claims, holding that Mr Osipov had submitted protected disclosures and that he had been subjected to various detriments (including, but not limited to, dismissal) as a result of those disclosures. The Tribunal awarded Mr Ospiov £1.7 million as compensation for his dismissal against Mr Timis, Mr Sage, and IPL on a joint and several basis, meaning that they were all equally liable to pay the full amount of compensation.

Mr Timis and Mr Sage appealed the Employment Tribunal’s decision, arguing that, although it was permissible for the Tribunal to find that they had submitted Mr Opisov to detriments, it was an error of law for the Tribunal to allow Mr Opisov to bring a detriment claim where the detriment is dismissal. They also argued that it was an error of law for the Tribunal to hold that they should be liable for post-dismissal losses (although, again, they agreed that it was permissible for the Tribunal to find that they were jointly and severally liable for pre-dismissal losses).

The Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision

The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed Mr Sage and Mr Timis’ appeals, holding that there is nothing in the relevant legislation which prevents employees from bring a claim for detriment arising from protected disclosures where the detriment pleaded is dismissal. Equally, the Tribunal held that there was no error of law in holding that individuals could be personally liable for losses arising from an employee’s dismissal.

Our solicitors’ comments

This case has significant implications for both senior management of businesses and the businesses themselves.

What Osipov establishes is that dismissed  employees may bring detriment claims against former colleagues involved in their dismissal in respect of the decision to dismiss them. This is an advantage for the claimant as the burden of proof in establishing a causal link between a protected disclosure and a ‘detriment’ is less onerous (where the claimant has to show that the disclosure was a ‘material influence’ in relation to their treatment) than establishing that they were dismissed because of the disclosure (where the claimant has to show that the dismissal was the cause or the principal cause of their dismissal). Equally, this case also establishes that former colleagues involved in making the decision to dismiss could potentially be liable for a claimant’s financial losses post-dismissal.

There are also added risks to businesses, in that the employer may be held vicariously liable for the detriments (including dismissal) that its employees subject the claimant to. Businesses are able to defend themselves from such claims by establishing that they took all reasonably practicable steps to prevent the conduct in question occurring, but tangible evidence will need to be submitted of such (such as, for example, training in how to deal with protected disclosures, the establishing of policies to deal with such situations, and a commitment on the business’ (and senior management’s) part to prevent whistleblowers from being subjected to any detriment.

Directors, partners, and officers of businesses may wish to establish whether they are covered against the risk of such claims by liability insurance cover.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.76 Average

124 Reviews

Brittany

I was very grateful for Redmans to treat my case with respect and discretion. At the time, I was very new to London and it was meaningful to have someone on my side and win the case for me. Without any doubt, I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors to anyone who is in need of it.

Posted 2 months ago

Jake L

Chris is very professional and calm. Very attentive and patient, been a positive experience having Chris represent me, and would recommend him.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service. It was a pleasure to work with Chris H, who is brilliant at what he does and very efficient. Their Senior Associate Rana T. is also very knowledgeable and resolves any queries speedily and efficiently. My issue could unfortunately not be resolved, but that was due to my employer and not the firm. Redmans however did all they could. I would definitely recommend them.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Very pleasant and quick to deal with. Mnay thanks.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Easy to get hold of. Quick.

Posted 3 months ago

Owen J

Very helpful, efficient service.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

I am very lucky that I worked with Mr. Chris Hadrill and he managed my case very progressively with an analytical approach and trustfully. Of course with a very positive result. I strongly recommend Mr. Hadrill to any one seeking for a successful result from a highly qualified solicitor.

Posted 4 months ago

Kulbir S

Amazing, quick friendly service from Chris from the start and Caroline. They made me feel at ease during a difficult time, they understood and advised accordingly and I am really happy with the outcome of my case. Will always advise anyone who needs legal advice to contact Redmans, I’m so glad that I did and can confidently say I don’t think any other firm could have handled my case any better. Well done guys, wish you all the best and please keep doing what your doing, simply the best!

Posted 4 months ago

Mark A

Excellent service - rapid and “to the point” advice given to ensure meeting the target time frame

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill kept me sane during the negotiations with my employer. He was courteous professional and he cared about doing the best he could for me. I will use Redmans again if ever I need an employment solicitor. Excellent service.

Posted 4 months ago

Muhammad Z

Awesome services. Professionals at their best .

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Thanks for the advice and for negotiating a good outcome. Good to have the support at a very stressful time

Posted 4 months ago

Chloe F

My solicitor at Redmans was very helpful and efficient. Really pleased with the smooth service.

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Chris was absolutely excellent. Clear and concise, offering sound advice.

Posted 4 months ago

Tim O

Experienced and competent advisors

Posted 4 months ago

Rachel A

Quick and expert assistance. I would highly recommend Chris for any of your legal needs.

Posted 4 months ago

Joe S

I was very happy with the service provided by Chris and the team at Redmans Solicitors. I felt very comfortable discussing all matters with Chris and am very grateful for all the help and guidance I was given throughout the whole process. I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors to friends and family!

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

I had a very good experience working with Chris Hadrill during a difficult and emotional time. This held true from the moment I spoke to him on the phone, to the end of the process. Overall, he was attentive, professional and highly supportive. He provided sound advice and clarity. It was the reviews that led me to Redmans! I was very happy to know they were all true. I highly recommend working with Redmans Solicitors. Thank-you to the entire team!

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Good service

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent professional service. Highly recommend.

Posted 4 months ago

Rob O

Very prompt response and I could not fault the service. My solicitor listened carefully to the details of my case and I felt very confident in the advice I was offered. All emails and work done on my behalf with my former employer was of the highest standard and Redmans helped take a lot of the stress out of the situation for me.

Posted 5 months ago