Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Private Functions

Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Private Functions

Article excerpt

The Human Rights Act has not had quite the impact anticipated. As the EAT throws out a tribunal's ruling on a breach of the act, Sue Nickson asks how it will work in practice

Since October last year the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) has required English courts and tribunals to decide cases as far as possible in a manner consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Media coverage suggested that employment law would never be the same again, so what has happened?

Not much, according to the Lord Chancellor's Department, which recently issued a press release stating that the HRA has had "no significant impact" on the courts.

The release coincided with the EAT's decision in the case of De Keyser Ltd v Wilson. This concerned an employer's appeal against the striking out of its defence by the tribunal on the alleged grounds that it had conducted the proceedings in such a manner as to infringe the right to respect for privacy and family life contained in Article 8 of the ECHR, and that this had prejudiced Wilson's right to a fair trial.

Wilson had claimed that she had been forced to resign because of stress at work. The employer argued that her personal life, not her work, was the real cause of any stress she had suffered. De Keyser sent a letter asking a consultant to act as an expert witness and to prepare a medical report for the tribunal hearing. In that letter it set out in robust terms certain details of Wilson's personal life which it had become aware of during her employment.

Wilson believed that such private and sensitive information about her should not have been disclosed. She asked the tribunal for an order that a replacement expert be appointed as, by instructing the consultant in such terms, De Keyser had allegedly created the potential for him to be "unduly influenced" by such intrusive and sensitive information and the manner of its presentation. …

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