A recent appeal case has highlighted the fact that an employment claim, which reaches a Tribunal, is almost always going to be made public when the judgement is published on the Public Register available online.
Tribunal hearings are held in public with the public and press welcome to attend. The final judgement and their written reasons for the judgement (if issued) are made available on the public register for anyone to search and read.
In the recent Appeal case of Ameyaw v PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), it has been held that a Tribunal does not have the power to remove a judgement from the public register once it has been published.
The appeal related to a previous judgement against Ms Ameyaw, which contained criticism of her behaviour during a preliminary hearing.
Ms Ameyaw applied to have the judgement taken offline and for an Anonymity Order, both applications were refused by the Employment Tribunal and this decision was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
When giving their reasons for the decision it was emphasised that only when a case relates to national security does an Employment Tribunal have the power to remove the written reasons and/or judgement from the register.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal stated; ‘The fact that the record of the proceedings, published without restriction, might be painful, humiliating, or deterrent’ would not, of itself, mean that it should not be made public.’
This decision, whilst clearly about the employee’s reputation, provides a helpful reminder to Employers of the reputational risk and damage that can come from having a judgement against you in the Employment Tribunal register. We promote and encourage our clients to avoid Tribunal claims by using good practice and fair and reasonable behaviour. In the event that there is a claim against your business it can be useful to consider other ways to avoid a public judgement such as a commercial settlement.
Given the uncertain future of the UK economy and the fact that we are predicting further struggles to employ good staff, reputation is going to become even more important and if a potential candidate reads a damning judgement against your business, they may be reluctant to consider future employment with you.
If you want to avoid the reputational risk, not to mention cost, of defending an employment tribunal claim, we offer an affordable retained HR service ‘HR Harbour’, which will ensure you are complying with employment law, and give you access to expert legal advice 24/7.
This article was written and researched by Abigail Stiles, Business Administration Apprentice
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