Susan Chan successful in Dobbie v Paula Felton t/a Feltons Solicitors
Dobbie v Paula Felton t/a Feltons Solicitors
14 June 2023, London Central Employment Tribunal
Susan Chan successfully defended the Respondent, a sole practice solicitor, in this long-running saga that has been to the EAT and back. The matter had been remitted to a new tribunal on the issue of what constitutes a whistleblowing disclosure. Susan has acted for Ms Felton at all stages.
The Claimant had joined Ms Felton’s practice as a paralegal in 2010, then qualified as a solicitor with her assistance in March 2014. In March 2016 his consultancy was terminated after Ms Felton had serious concerns about Mr Dobbie’s conduct, integrity, competency, and rudeness towards other professionals. Mr Dobbie alleged that he had suffered detriments due to his whistleblowing disclosures that the practice had overbilled for work done by consultants other than himself on a particular highly-paid insurance case. This was despite him at the same time seeking to double his own billed fees on the case.
The Claimant’s detriment claim was dismissed at tribunal in 2019 but upon the Claimant’s appeal, the EAT allowed his appeal on the issue of firstly, whether the Claimant’s disclosures had alleged breach of a legal obligation and secondly, whether the consultancy termination and other alleged detriments had been “materially influenced” by his disclosures. These two matters were remitted to a differently-constituted tribunal: Employment Appeal Judgment Dobbie v Paula Felton t/a Feltons Solicitors
Following remittal it was established that the Claimant had made qualifying protected disclosures. The only remaining issue was whether those disclosures were a material influence in the Claimant’s consultancy being terminated and other claimed detriments. Essentially, factual findings about ‘causation’ of detriment were required.
In this decision, the tribunal found that neither the termination of the Claimant’s consultancy nor any of the other claimed detriments such as Ms Felton reporting the Claimant’s misconduct to regulatory bodies Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority and the Bar Standards Board, had been materially influenced by Mr Dobbie’s qualifying disclosures. The tribunal went on to find that even if they were wrong and the disclosures had been a material factor in the termination of consultancy, Ms Felton would, acting lawfully, have terminated the consultancy within a week. The claim was dismissed.
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