Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

The case of Norbrook Laboratories (GB) Ltd v Shaw UKEAT/0150/13/RN addressed whether multiple separate disclosures taken as a whole could be classed as a qualifying disclosure. The EAT held in this case that

The facts

Mr Shaw commenced employment on 4 October 2010 with Norbrook Laboratories (GB) Ltd, a company which sells and distributes pharmaceutical products. His responsibilities as Sales and Business Communications Manager included managing a team of Territory Managers who operated in the UK. These Territory Managers were often obliged to drive to clients and potential clients in order to gain sales.

The winter of 2010 in the UK was particularly severe and there were large snowfalls, with main motorways closed. This meant that the Territory Managers were finding it difficult to get to their appointments. The Territory Managers therefore raised with Mr Shaw the issue of whether, if they were unable to attend an appointment, they would still be paid their wages.

On 30 November 2010 Mr Shaw emailed Mr Cuthbertson, the Health and Safety Manager at Norwood Laboratories, to request that he be provided “advice on what my Territory Managers should do in terms of driving in the snow. Is there a company policy and has a risk assessment been done.” Mr Shaw then emailed Mr Cuthbertson later that day to ask for “formal guidance from the company. The team are under a lot of pressure to keep out on the roads at the moment and it is dangerous…”.

On 6 December 2010 Mr Shaw sent an email to a member of the Human Resources team to state that he had a “duty of care for [his team’s] health and safety. Having spent most of Monday and Friday driving through snow I know how dangerous it can be…”.

Mr Shaw was subsequently dismissed from his employment with the company and he made claims to the Employment Tribunal for automatic unfair dismissal (under s.130A Employment Rights Act 1996) and detriment due to making a protected disclosure (under s.47 Employment Rights Act 1996) – these claims are known colloquially as “whistleblowing” claims.

A Pre-Hearing Review was held on 29 May 2012 at which Norwood Laboratories argued that Mr Shaw’s emails separately or together could not be determined to be a “protected disclosure” for the purposes of s.43B Employment Rights Act 1996. Mr Shaw contended that in fact these emails did amount to a protected disclosure as they alleged health and safety breaches on the company’s part. The Employment Tribunal found that the emails of 30 November 2010 and 6 December 2010 were capable of amounting to qualifying disclosures. Norwood Laboratories appealed the judgment of the Employment Tribunal, arguing that the emails were not capable of amounting to qualifying disclosures, either separately or together, as the emails did not contain “information” but only Mr Shaw’s statement of mind, the emails only contained “generalised disclosure”, and that separate emails could not be read as a whole as qualifying disclosure.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed Norwood Laboratories’ appeal, holding that the Employment Tribunal had not erred in holding that the email correspondence as a whole amount to a qualifying disclosure, notwithstanding the fact that the email of 6 December 2010 was sent to a different individual in a different department, as Mr Shaw had referred in his email dated 6 December 2010 to the previous correspondence with Mr Cuthbertson. The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the recipient of the email dated 6 December 2010 could not therefore have been in doubt that there had been earlier correspondence from the Claimant regarding the dangerous conditions that the Territory Managers were driving in.

What does this case mean for me?

If you are an employee and are raising complaints about an issue in different communications then it is advisable to refer in any complaint to previous communications that you had made regarding the issue – this will restrict the scope of the employer to argue that any complaints sent by the employee do not (either separately or as a whole) amount to a qualifying disclosure.

However, and as the Employment Appeal Tribunal made clear in its judgment, the EAT’s decision turned on the facts of this particular case – if the email of 6 December 2010 had made it clear that there had been previous communications regarding the same issue then Mr Shaw’s arguments may have failed.

Why is this case significant?

This case is significant as it was the first case to consider whether separate communications complaining of the same issue (which may not each in and of themselves be qualifying disclosures) could be taken as a whole to be a qualifying disclosure. It will aid employees who address the same complaint on multiple occasions (possibly on different dates to different persons) to bring ‘whistleblowing’ claims.

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

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

4.62 Average

39 Reviews

Katelyn

The solicitor communicated well with me and made sure I understood everything. He did everything needed for my settlement agreement and tried to get the wording changed in my favour too.

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

Redmans provided excellent services

Posted 3 days ago

Sibel U

Excellent service

Posted 3 days ago

Peter S

I was very happy with the level of advise I received from Caroline Lewis, and a very professional service fron Chris, The advice given really helped me and I was comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. I would be more than happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 3 days ago

Derek S

I very much appreciated the help provided by Redmans in the settlement agreement agreed with my former employer.

Posted 4 days ago

Waseem M

It was the first ime I used Redmans Solicitors and to be honest, thety were amazing. Rana Tandon and Chris Hadrill were out of this world. They made the process as simply and smooth as can be. Thank you so much for all your support over the last week.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Worked very quickly considering right deadlines - and gave great advice

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Redmans provided me with excellent advice at a very stressful time. The calm, confident and extremely professional manner in which my solicitor handled my case made the issue much easier to deal with and I was very impressed with the level of service I received.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Immediate response to my initial enquiry. Very clear throughout the whole process and thorough and great communication which worked really well during quite a stressful time. Chris Hadrill was extremely helpful and made me feel at ease.

Posted 3 months ago

Nick D

I received a very professional service from Chris. The advice given really helped to leave me comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. Would be happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service from initial contact to deliverables.

Posted 4 months ago

Virginia K

Yes, Chris Hadrill answered all my questions and I feel more confident with my current situation

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill was referred to me my a friend of mine. I found the service to be efficient, quick and like Chris's direct approach to my work. Well done and thank you Chris!

Posted 4 months ago

Andy W

Very prompt & structured service that helped put my mind at rest at a difficult time

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

I have found Redmans to be very helpful, diligant and thoroughly professional when dealing with them, plus they gone that extra mile for me !

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Thank you to Chris Hadrill at Redmans for his assistance in settling my case. I contacted him at the very last minute and he was happy to help me and managed to get everything done on time and in a very professional manner. I will definitely be happy to work with him again .

Posted 4 months ago

Redman's provided excellent legal employment advice for me during a difficult time in my employment. Chris was my lawyer, super efficient, quick, reliable and clearly very experienced in the matter. Could not ask for a better law firm to deal with your query if you are in need of some help. Would definitely use them again in the future. Highly recommending Chris.

Posted 8 months ago

Steven

Chris Hadrill was very professional and responsive. I would highly recommend him

Posted 8 months ago

Dinah

Very Efficient, with very quick email reply’s. I had a matter that needed resolving within a very short space of time and Redmans Solicitors were great with dealing with my matter quickly.

Posted 8 months ago

Ankar

At Redmans the solicitor that was dealing with me was Chris. He dealt with my situation smoothly with clear guidance and explanation

Posted 8 months ago

Anonymous

Clear, concise advice and guidance delivered by an experienced and very capable solicitor, within the timelines required

Posted 9 months ago