In Gilham v MOJ, the Cloisters’ barristers represented District Judge Claire Gilham who made protected disclosures about listing pressures and potential courtroom dangers to senior judges following Government austerity measures.
She alleges that the MOJ’s reaction was to bully and overwork her, causing severe stress, anxiety and depression.
DJ Gilham brought claims for disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and public interest disclosure (‘whistleblowing’) detriments under the Employment Rights Act 1996. She believed her complaints should be covered by whistleblowing protection law.
An employment tribunal held she could not bring the whistleblowing claim against the MoJ because she was not a “worker” for the purposes of s 230(3) Employment Rights Act 1996. Under that section, a worker must work under a contract; either a contract of employment or a contract to perform services. The employment tribunal agreed with the MoJ that District Judges are office holders and do not work under contracts.
Rachel Crasnow QC and Rachel Barrett argued before the EAT that District Judges are office holders with contracts and qualify as workers protected by whistleblowing legislation. They further argued that it was a breach of human rights not to allow DJ Gilham to have access to the whistleblowing legislation. The outcome of the hearing will be significant in the development of case law on judges’ employment status.
Decision is reserved. Further submissions will be put forward in September.
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