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INC Law
INC Law, Solicitor-Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 16066
Experience:  LL.B, LPC, LL.M, Pg.Dip, Solicitor-Advocate. UK Practising Certificate issued by SRA., DIFC Courts Registered (Dubai)
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My husband has been threatened with being sued by a

Customer Question

My husband has been threatened with being sued by a solicitor (the he did some work for) for breach of confidentiality and now is very anxious about it. Is there anything he can do to prepare?
JA: Where is your husband? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: We are in the UK
JA: What steps has your husband taken so far?
Customer: Nothing as yet
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: The specific situation is that the solicitor who contacted him needed him to carry out a report based on the findings at the clients property. The solicitors client is being prosecuted by the Environment Agency and (running an environmental consultancy business) my husband carried out a report. The site was worse than they could imagine and they made the solicitor aware of this. However, morally my husband felt he couldn’t not do anything because he was shocked by the amount of illegal land fill that appeared to have taken place at the site. He therefore disclosed the report to the environment agency as well and when the solicitor found out he threatened to sue.
Submitted: 16 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  INC Law replied 16 days ago.

Hi,

Thank you for your query.  I am a Solicitor-Advocate in the UK and will be assisting you with your question today.

Does your husband have an obligation tobreport such findings to the environmental agency?

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
We don’t think there is any legal obligation other than a public and moral duty. His concerns were in particular the close proximity of a river to the site.
Expert:  INC Law replied 16 days ago.

Hi,

I will look into this further and come back to you shortly

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Thank you
Expert:  INC Law replied 16 days ago.

Hi,

A worker has the right not to be subject to any detriment by any act, or deliberate failure to act, of their employer on the grounds that they have made a ‘protected disclosure’ (section 47B Employment Rights Act 1996).

In order to constitute a protected disclosure, a disclosure to an employer must be made in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest and that it is of information showing one or more of a number of matters listed in section 43B Employment Rights Act 1996, including:

That a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which they are subject;

That a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed;

That the health and safety of an individual has been or is likely to be endangered.

Whether a disclosure was made in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest is a two-stage test. First, you must consider whether the worker making the disclosure genuinely believed it to be in the public interest. If it is determined that the worker genuinely held that belief then you move on to assess whether that belief was reasonable.

Protected disclosures may be made to someone other than an employer, such as regulatory bodies, the media and prescribed persons. The criteria which must be met for a disclosure to be afforded protected status varies depending upon the nature of the recipient.

It may be that the Solicitor has a claim.  I understand that your husband is a service provider and not an employee and terfore was commissioned to provide the report.  If so, then the employee rules may not apply.

The following law firm may be able to offer some further guidance: https://constantinecannon.com/practice/whistleblower/contact/london/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw4eaJBhDMARIsANhrQAB3PcQuPkDuszqzB44_daG7bfvQebpUVzpElH3qRsvcyXGUqnd05scaAvhOEALw_wcB

I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Many thanks,

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
He was concerned also that there was a risk that the whistle blower defence wasn’t covered because he sent the whole report (that states that it’s confidential), but the fact that the solicitor that’s threatened to sue also told him that if the report wasn’t favourable he just wouldn’t disclose it! Which was the other concern, for an environmental consultant they felt responsible to report it to them
Expert:  INC Law replied 16 days ago.

I note what you say. He would need to check the guidelines ws from his regulatory body for further guidance.