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Employment Law Specialists

Groundbreaking whistleblowing case clarifying the law on interim relief hearings and publicity

Jonathan Millet v (1) Queensgate Investments LLP (2) Jason Know – EAT UKEAT/0256/20/RN

Mr Millet was the Head of Acquisitions at Queensgate Investments LLP, a private equity firm. Mr Know is the founder and CEO.

On his dismissal, in October 2020, purportedly for reason of redundancy, Mr Millet brought a number of claims against the Respondents. One of these was automatic unfair dismissal due to him being a whistleblower and Mr Millet made an application for interim relief.

Interim relief is only available to claimants bringing a small number of specific claims for automatic unfair dismissal, most frequently for whistleblowing. If the application is successful, the Employment Tribunal will make an order for reinstatement, re-engagement or a continuation of contract order (where the respondent is ordered to pay the claimant as if employment was continuing) pending the final determination of the claim. Sums paid to a claimant under a continuation of contract order are irrecoverable.

Queensgate argued that this application should be heard in private. The Tribunal found that the law required it to be heard in public. Queensgate appealed to the EAT. The Media Lawyers Association intervened.

In the first appellant authority on this point, the EAT ruled that interim relief applications should be heard in public. It is well established that the principle of open justice is of fundamental importance to the functioning of a democratic society. The EAT’s decision in this case underlines the importance of that principle as not only did the EAT confirm that the important first hearing in some whistlebwlowing claims, which by their definition involve a determination of what is in the public interest, but the EAT also confirmed that parties seeking privacy orders must make an application supported by evidence demonstrating why justice cannot be done without such an order.

The team of lawyers at BDBF acting in this case was Gareth Brahams, Clare Brereton and Melvyna Mumunie.