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Welcome to the EELA EELC Updates, an online database of judgments of national courts, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights in the field of employment law. In addition to case law, we also bring you the occasional articles and news items. For more information, please click here.

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Court watch

2011-10-06

ECtHR 12 February 2008, (Guja – v – Moldova), Application no. 14277/04 and ECtHR 6 October 2011, (Vellutine and Michel – v – France), Application no. 32820/09, Fundamental rights, Whistleblowing, Unions

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is developing a clear jurisprudence in relation to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the employment context. Although this right to expression by the employee - contrary to the employer’s interests - must be balanced against a duty of loyalty to the employer, the ECtHR has afforded the employee ever greater freedom of expression. Both Guja and Vellutine offer wide application to Article 10 in the context of “whistleblowing” and labour disputes.

Guja was a whistleblowing case where a civil servant in a sensitive position disclosed letters to the media in order to draw attention to corruption at the governmental level. The ECtHR disagreed with the decision of the Moldova Supreme Court but the applicability of this decision may be limited to the unique circumstances existing in Moldova, namely the weakness of the rule of law in that country.

In Vellutine, the ECtHR consider the application of free speech in the context of a dispute between a trade union and a publically elected official. The Court had previously placed limits on the language that could be used during a labour dispute (Sanchez v Spain). However, in the context of a dispute involving an elected official greater latitude was permitted. The ECtHR disagreed with the Cours de Cassation that the use of defamatory words was not protected by Article 10.

European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), 2011-10-06

Summary

2011-10-06

ECtHR 12 February 2008, (Guja – v – Moldova), Application no. 14277/04 and ECtHR 6 October 2011, (Vellutine and Michel – v – France), Application no. 32820/09, Fundamental rights, Whistleblowing, Unions

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is developing a clear jurisprudence in relation to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the employment context. Although this right to expression by the employee - contrary to the employer’s interests - must be balanced against a duty of loyalty to the employer, the ECtHR has afforded the employee ever greater freedom of expression. Both Guja and Vellutine offer wide application to Article 10 in the context of “whistleblowing” and labour disputes.

Guja was a whistleblowing case where a civil servant in a sensitive position disclosed letters to the media in order to draw attention to corruption at the governmental level. The ECtHR disagreed with the decision of the Moldova Supreme Court but the applicability of this decision may be limited to the unique circumstances existing in Moldova, namely the weakness of the rule of law in that country.

In Vellutine, the ECtHR consider the application of free speech in the context of a dispute between a trade union and a publically elected official. The Court had previously placed limits on the language that could be used during a labour dispute (Sanchez v Spain). However, in the context of a dispute involving an elected official greater latitude was permitted. The ECtHR disagreed with the Cours de Cassation that the use of defamatory words was not protected by Article 10.

European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), 2011-10-06