Date set for Clydes Supreme Court whistleblowing case

A one and a half day Supreme Court hearing is scheduled to begin on 24 March to decide whether LLP members should be protected by whistleblowing legislation.

It is the latest phase of the legal battle between Clyde & Co and former partner Krista Bates van Winkelhof, in which she alleges she was unfairly dismissed from the firm after blowing the whistle on the managing partner of Clydes’ association firm Ako Law in Tanzania (26 September 2012).

Mishcon de Reya’s employment head Joanna Blackburn is acting for Bates van Winkelhof, instructing Matrix Chambers’ Tom Linden QC and Essex Court Chambers’ David Craig. Mishcon is acting pro bono for the claimant.

The appeal will be heard by Lords Justice Neuberger, Clarke, Wilson and Carnwath and Lady Justice Hale.

The Supreme Court gave Bates van Winkelhof permission to appeal an earlier ruling that she could not pursue a whistleblowing claim against Clydes because she was a partner and not employed by the firm (11 March 2013).

Although the Court of Appeal (CoA) said she could not pursue the whistleblowing claims, it accepted rulings made in both the tribunal and the EAT that Bates van Winkelhof had spent sufficient time in the UK to have claim to jurisdiction and a right to pursue pregnancy and sex discrimination claims.

At the time the Supreme Court appeal was granted, Clydes said in a statement: “We recognise that the Supreme Court wishes to consider whether members of a LLP may be considered ‘workers’ under the ERA. Our view remains that the Court of Appeal decision was correct on this point.

“Whatever the Supreme Court’s ruling, this case will be remitted back to the Employment Tribunal to consider some or all of Ms Bates van Winkelhof’s claims, all of which Clyde & Co strongly denies.” 

The legal line-up:

For the appellant, Krista Bates van Winkelhof:

Matrix Chambers’ Tom Linden QC and Essex Court Chambers’ David Craig, instructed by Mishcon de Reya employment head Joanna Blackburn

For the respondents, Clyde & Co

Littleton Chambers’ Andrew Clarke QC and Clive Freeman QC, instructed by Clyde & Co partner Nick Elwell-Sutton