Former whistle blower’s claim dismissed by Employment Tribunal

Former whistle blower’s claim dismissed by Employment Tribunal Judge Hilary Norris – The Times – 8 January 2013

Martin Woods, a former police officer and money laundering expert, launched a claim for unspecified damages against Coutts & Co when the bank reneged on an offer of employment. Coutts, the private banking arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland, had offered Mr Woods a three month job in a compliance role. However they reneged this once they discovered that Mr Woods had reported his former employer, Wachovia Bank, to regulators for having allowed billions of dollars of Mexican drug money to pass through its accounts. Wachovia Bank subsequently paid penalties of $160 million dollars, in part due to Mr Woods’ disclosures. Mr Woods claimed that Coutts actions amounted to a detriment based on his whistleblowing and that he was therefore entitled to bring a claim.

Coutts disputed this, claiming that the contract governing Mr Woods’ offer had not been finalised as far as the bank was concerned. Mr Woods was to be hired through a recruitment agency, Hermes Forensic Solutions, and although Mr Woods had signed the contract, which was with the recruitment agency at the time Coutts reneged, Coutts maintained that the final contract had not been agreed. Mr Woods was never, therefore, a ‘worker’ within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and so did not have the requisite standing to bring a claim.

Judge Hilary Norris, a consultant at Magrath LLP, agreed with the bank, remarking that she was unable to go beyond what was plainly written in statute and that as Mr Woods was not a worker the Employment Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to consider Mr Woods’ complaint. His case was struck out.


Magrath LLP acts in Okoro v Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd – The Lawyer – 14 January 2013

The Lawyer has this week reported on the case of Okoro v Taylor Woodrow Construction Limited in the Court of Appeal. Magrath LLP, led by partner Susan Thompson, acted for the first defendant, Taylor Woodrow Construction Limited, in successfully defending this landmark case which has been widely reported in the legal press.

The Court of Appeal agreed that Mr Okoro’s ban from working on any of Taylor Woodrow’s sites was a ‘one off act’ and could not be seen to be a continuing act. Counsel for Mr Okoro had argued that for so long as the ban remained in place, it should be construed as a continuing act for the purposes of the Race Relations Act 1976 and that accordingly Mr Okoro’s claim had not been brought outside of the three month time limit. The Court of Appeal disagreed, finding that the ban could not be considered to be anything other than a one off act, which terminated the relationship between the Claimant and the Respondents. Mr Okoro’s claim had therefore been brought out of time and his appeal was dismissed.

To read the full judgment in this case, please click here.


Former whistle blower’s claim