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Why UK whistle-blowing protection laws don’t always apply to those who blow the whistle overseas

Why UK whistle-blowing protection laws don’t always apply to those who blow the whistle overseas

Smania v Standard Chartered

This EAT case concerns the territorial scope of whistle-blowing involving a Claimant a banker working in Singapore for the Respondent.

The Claimant sought to argue that UK whistle-blowing protection applied to him when he made allegations of financial misconduct. The Respondent’s registered office is based in the UK and is regulated by both UK law along and relevant Asian regulation.

 

The Claimant’s appeal was based on UK domestic law, the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The President of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, Mr Justice Langstaff, rejected the Claimant’s argument. Stating that whilst "it may be desirable in a general sense that there should be protection” for anyone making a disclosure anywhere in the world, UK law could not be read to have such a world-wide application. 

Further, the European Convention on Human Rights could only cover non-Convention territories in military occupation or invasion and the EU Charter does not extend the scope of Convention rights.

“This case makes it clear that those who blow the whistle overseas about practices that could affect the UK economy, still need a sufficiently strong connection with the UK”, said Cloisters barrister Sarah Fraser Butlin. “It is not enough that the overseas employer may have a UK registered address, something much more is needed. If Parliament wants such workers to be protected then they will need to legislate for it."

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