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Ex-Clydes partner settles whistleblowing case

After a long-running dispute between Clyde & Co and former partner Krista Bates van Winkelhof, the firm has finally settled the whistleblowing case outside of court.

The settlement comes after Bates van Winkelhof alleged that she was forced to leave Clydes after she ‘blew the whistle’ on the managing partner of the firm’s Tanzanian associate firm – claiming that he was paying bribes to win clients. This also coincided with her announcing her pregnancy. Clydes ‘vehemently denied’ all claims at the time.

Mishcon de Reya partner Joanna Blackburn represented Bates van Winkelhof, alongside Matrix Chambers’ Tom Linden QC. Clydes was led by the firm’s partner Nick Elwell-Sutton, who instructed Kobre & Kim barrister Andrew Stafford QC – previously of Littleton Chambers – and Chris Quinn.

A statement from Clyde & Co said: ‘The case has now been settled. Neither party will be making any further comment.’ The case itself was not brought through to any independent tribunal.

The precedent-setting case spurred much reaction earlier this year over whether partners of limited liability partnerships (LLPs) are entitled to whistle blower protection. In May 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that partners who expose malpractice in their own law firm will be protected by whistleblower legislation.

The ruling overturned a previous Court of Appeal decision in September 2012 which ruled that members of LLPs are not considered ‘workers’ under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA), and, therefore, that Bates van Winkelhof could not pursue a whistleblowing case against Clydes because she did not enjoy the relevant protection under English law.

Bates van Winkelhof had first brought the complaint against Clydes under the ERA, on the basis that her expulsion from the partnership was detrimental because she had made protected disclosures.