Rogers & Norton News

Judicial Proceedings Immunity – Singh v Reading Borough Council

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ms Singh was a head teacher employed by the Council. While still working at her school, she brought a claim alleging that parents, staff and governors had pursued a campaign of race discrimination, harassment and victimisation against her.

In the lead-up to the tribunal hearing, the Council served a witness statement from the Clerk to the Governing Body. This sparked a new element to Ms Singh’s claim; she believed that the statement contained lies and that improper pressure had been put on the Clerk to make it. This was all part of the race discrimination campaign, she argued, and was the last straw. Ms Singh resigned and added constructive dismissal to her claim.

The question for the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) was whether or not documents produced while preparing a case for hearing are protected by judicial proceedings immunity. If the Clerk’s witness statement were privileged then Ms Singh could not use it in support of her constructive dismissal claim.

The EAT held that immunity applied. This protects not only witnesses who are giving evidence, but also the parties preparing their case, the EAT said. So even if undue pressure is put on a witness to produce a statement, or to give false evidence, that action cannot be used to found another claim.