Wilsons Solicitors LLP & Ors v Roberts [2018] EWCA Civ 52

Appeal against an EAT decision that allowed an appeal against the striking out of the Claimant's claim relating to his termination of his membership of a solicitor's firm, and the losses that flowed from that termination. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant notified the Respondents that they had repudiated the Members' Agreement and that he was giving one month's notice of termination of his membership because the Respondents' conduct towards him had made his continued membership intolerable. The Respondents denied that there had been any repudiatory breaches and rejected the notice which had been given by the Claimant, informing him that they expected him to return to work. The Claimant rejected the Respondents' letter and confirmed that his membership would cease as of that date. The Claimant did not return to work and he was expelled from the firm by the Respondents. He made a claim in the ET for "compensation for detriment suffered by a worker as a result of the making of protected disclosures". The ET ruled that, following the decision of the High Court in Flanagan, the element of the Claimant's claim that related to his termination of his membership and the losses that flowed from that termination should be struck out. The Claimant appealed to the EAT which was allowed. The EAT held that an LLP member who is a worker and protected by the whistleblowing provisions in the 1996 Act can claim compensation for post-termination financial losses even if lawfully expelled as a member, provided that he demonstrates that such losses are attributable to the earlier unlawful detrimental treatment. This was a question of fact and judgment to be assessed and determined by the ET on evidence. The ET was therefore not entitled to strike out that element of the claim without hearing evidence or making any findings of fact. The Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The claim should not have been struck out because there were clearly matters of fact which needed to be explored and that could only be done after the evidence had been heard by the ET at a substantive hearing.


Published: 01/02/2018 11:19

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