The Law Firm of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Malherbe LLP

Whistleblowing in the UK

Whistleblowing has become an increasingly important topic in the United Kingdom in recent years. This is due, in part, to the number of corporate scandals that have occurred in recent years, such as the phone-hacking scandal at News International and the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal. In both of these cases, whistleblowers came forward to expose the wrongdoings that were taking place within these companies.

Whistleblowing can take many forms, but it typically involves exposing illegal or unethical behavior within an organization, usually by someone from within the organization itself. This can be done internally, to a company's management or board of directors, or externally, to the media or law enforcement. Because of the potential dangers involved, whistleblowers may choose to remain anonymous. This can guarantee that their safety and reputation will be protected and that they won’t be retaliated against.

There are a number of reasons why someone might choose to blow the whistle on corporate misconduct. They may believe that it is the right thing to do to protect the public from harm. They may be pressured by their superiors to take part in the misconduct, and are uncomfortable with participating in illegal activities. Others may simply believe that the company is breaking the law and they want to stop this from happening because of their own moral standards. Some whistleblowers do it for more selfish reasons like receiving a monetary reward. Regardless of the motivation, whistleblowers play an important role in holding companies accountable for their actions.

However, blowing the whistle can also be a risky proposition. Whistleblowers may face retaliation from their employers, including being fired or demoted. They may also face an uphill legal battle against the company they are reporting, which usually has more time and resources for cases like these. This is why it is important for whistleblowers to seek out legal advice before taking any action. A law firm that specializes in whistleblower cases can assist the person who wants to come forward with information of wrongdoing and can help mitigate the risks of retaliation.

The UK currently does not pay much in whistleblower rewards. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 pays whistleblower rewards to UK whistleblowers, but the amounts paid are tiny compared to how much US whistleblower programs pay qualifying whistleblowers. Certain whistleblower programs in the US can also apply to international cases. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a program in place that offers whistleblowers rewards of up to 30% of the money recovered if their tips lead to successful enforcement actions with monetary sanctions over $1 million. In order for an award to be paid, the information must be new and not previously known or available to the SEC. Different US agencies have whistleblower programs like these that are generally available to whistleblowers from all over the world. UK whistleblowers may be eligible for whistleblower rewards if they report relevant information about wrongdoing to a US agency with one of these whistleblower programs.

Although they don’t have a whistleblower reward program, the UK does provide legal protections to whistleblowers. The Public Interest Disclosure Act protects workers who report wrongdoing in the workplace. This includes disclosing information about criminal offenses, breaches of legal obligations, dangers to health and safety, and environmental damage. Workers who make disclosures under PIDA are protected from dismissal and other forms of retaliation and may receive monetary compensation for the damages they suffer.

Regardless of whether or not the UK introduces a whistleblower rewards program, it is important to remember that whistleblowers play an important role in exposing illegal corporate activities. If you have witnessed something illegal or unethical taking place within your company, seek out ways of taking action and staying protected. The first step is to contact a lawyer who practices this area of law. They can advise you on your rights and options, and help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself from retaliation. You can also contact organizations such as Transparency International UK, which offers confidential advice and support for whistleblowers.

With the right help, you can make a difference.