Protection for whistleblowers—law firms
Protection for whistleblowers—law firms

The following Practice Compliance guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Protection for whistleblowers—law firms
  • What is whistleblowing?
  • SRA reporting requirements
  • Employment protection
  • Preconditions to whistleblowing protection
  • Qualifying disclosures
  • When are qualifying disclosures protected?
  • Internal procedures

This Practice Note summarises the law and practice in relation to whistleblowing as governed by the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996). It is intended to be provide high-level information for law firms, to help you draft your whistleblowing policy. It is not intended as a guide to dealing with whistleblowing claims, which is an employment law matter. This Practice Note also reflects reporting requirements in the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019.

What is whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is the common term used to describe a situation where:

  1. someone who works in or for an organisation (a worker)

  2. raises a concern about a possible fraud, crime, danger or other serious risk

  3. that could threaten customers, colleagues, shareholders, the public or the organisation's reputation

Whistleblowing legislation is governed by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA 1998). PIDA 1998 was incorporated into ERA 1996 and provides a framework within which a worker can safely draw matters to the attention of their employer or, where necessary to an external body, without fear of being dismissed or being subjected to any form of detriment.

SRA reporting requirements

Solicitors

Solicitors, Registered European Lawyers (RELs), Registered Foreign Lawyers (RFLs) must promptly:

  1. notify the SRA if:

    1. they are subject to any criminal charge, conviction or caution (subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974)

    2. a relevant insolvency