Many companies, and an increasing number of employees, are utilising consultancy or Internet companies to resolve workplace disputes, rather than a firm of solicitors or a barrister. A recent decision
by the Employment Appeal Tribunal
confirms that legal privilege does not attach to communications between these unqualified representatives and their clients.
What does this mean for you? Let's say an employee or an employer took legal advice from one of these companies prior to raising or dealing with a grievance. If the dispute subsequently went to an employment tribunal, that party could be forced to disclose the legal advice he or she received. This could be very harmful to settlement negotiations, especially if the legal advice was the not-so-uncommon "Your prospects are weak but you should proceed in the hope of settlement!"
Advice from barristers to their clients in employment disputes is always confidential, and can't be produced in evidence at the tribunal. New Walk Chambers has public access barristers who can provide valuable and tactical advice at a reasonable cost. If done at an early stage this can ensure that you don't put a foot wrong later and risk failure in any subsequent tribunal case.
Please contact us with any queries.
Written by Robert Rees, Direct Access Barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in Employment Law.