Ireland: Philpott v Marymount

Last Updated: 15 September 2015
Article by Deirdre Malone

Comyn Kelleher Tobin, of Cork through its Employment Law Department will furnish an article each month for Legal-Island e-mail service readers. The articles will cover current or historic employment cases decided by the higher courts of Ireland and will include legal analysis on why the decision covered each month is of such importance to the employers.

Today's article looks at Dan Philpott – v – Marymount University Hospital and Hospice Limited, the first reported case under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (commonly referred to as the Whistleblower Protection legislation).

CASE NAME AND REFERENCE: Dan Philpott – v- Marymount University Hospital and Hospice Limited
COURT OR TRIBUNAL: Circuit Court, Cork
JURISDICTION/SUBJECT MATTER: Interim Relief, Protected Disclosures


The Claimant was employed with the Respondent on a five year fixed term contract commencing on 6th May 2014. The Respondent asserted that the Claimant was dismissed by reason of significant interpersonal difficulties on 2nd December 2014. The Claimant remained absent from work on sick leave from 12th December 2014. The dismissal became effective from 2nd February 2015. The Claimant issued proceedings in the Employment Appeals Tribunal alleging Unfair Dismissal.

Separately, the Claimant sought interim relief from the Circuit Court to allow him to remain in the workplace as an employee pending the hearing of his unfair dismissal claim.

This is the first reported case under the Protected Disclosure Act ("the Act") in Ireland.


The focus of the Act is to protect "workers" (not just employees) having made a "protected disclosure" from dismissal or any other penalisation for having made such a disclosure.

A protected disclosure means a disclosure of "relevant information" which the worker believes tends to show relevant wrongdoings on the part of the employer and those wrongdoings came to the attention of the worker during their employment.

Included in the statutory definition of a relevant wrongdoing is:

  1. An offence has been, or is likely to be committed.
  2. A person has failed, or is likely to fail to comply with a legal obligation.
  3. A miscarriage of justice has occurred, or is likely to occur.
  4. The health and safety of an individual has been, is being, or is likely to be endangered.
  5. The environment has been, is being, or is likely to be damaged.
  6. The unlawful or improper use of funds or resources of a public body
  7. The mismanagement (including discrimination) or maladministration by a public official.
  8. That information tending to show any of the above is likely to be concealed or destroyed.

There is a presumption that a disclosure is a protected disclosure until the contrary is proven.

The burden of proof rests with the Respondent to show that a disclosure is not a protected disclosure. If the Respondent can prove that the disclosure does not fall within the definition above, the Claimant will not receive the benefit of the protection afforded under the legislation.


The Claimant in this case made three disclosures to the Board of the Respondent alleging various wrongdoings on 7th January 2015 (while on sick leave, and following notice of his dismissal).

The disclosures can be summarised as follows:-

  1. Charity funding was used for needs other than palliative care. The Claimant alleged that charitable donations were being diverted for improper use towards salaries, expenses of the Board and funding administration etc.

    The Court rejected the assertion.
  2. Significant issues with the building, which posed and continued to pose critical risk to the health and safety of patients, staff and public, existed. Two allegations were made, one regarding water contamination (which was refuted in cross examination) and a second relating to the collapse of a suspended ceiling.

    The Court noted that despite the Claimant's allegations, the building had passed two HIQUA registration tests and was a "state of the art" premises.
  3. There was a concern regarding mismanagement of financial resources. It was alleged that a building document was missing which was impeding remediation and loss recovery, which was indicative of a lack of control resulting in a loss of public money and charitable donations.

    The Court rejected this allegation following evidence that a firm of Loss Adjustors were in the process of recovering those losses and solicitors were acting in respect of the matter.

The Court ultimately held that the Applicant had failed objectively on the facts to satisfy the test that the beliefs and disclosures were reasonable, albeit accepting that the Applicant was sincere in his disclosures.

The Court refused the interim relief sought.


While the Court did not provide any great detail on its decision making process, it highlighted that it only had to satisfy itself that the beliefs and disclosures were reasonable. Having considered each of the three disclosures made, the Court felt that they were not reasonable, entitling it to refuse the relief sought.

Should the Court have found in favour of the Claimant, the consequences for the Respondent would have been significant. The Claimant in this case was given notice of dismissal in December 2014. The disclosure was not made by the Claimant until January 2015. If successful, the Claimant would have remained employed with the Respondent pending a determination of proceedings for unfair dismissal before the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

In conclusion:

  1. Employers should remember that a Claimant may be awarded up to 5 years' remuneration in the event that their dismissal (or penalisation) is connected to a protected disclosure. This award can be reduced by a maximum of 25% in the event that the investigation of the alleged wrongdoing was not the main motivation for making the disclosure.
  2. Employers should ensure that they have a comprehensive Whistleblower Policy in place to help minimise the risk of litigation. Employers with policies already in place should review to ensure compliance with the new legislation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions