Clyde & Co LLP and another v van Winkelhof 2010 EWHC668 QB

The High Court in this case held that a provision for binding arbitration in a partnership agreement breached the prohibition on contracting out in the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Equality Act 2010. Ms Van Winkelhof was a partner of Clyde & Co and brought discrimination and whistleblowing claims in the employment tribunal after she was expelled from the partnership. Clyde & Co applied for a mandatory injunction in the High Court requiring her to apply for a consent to a stay of her employment claims pending compliance with the Dispute Resolution Procedure set out in the LLP agreement. It was held that the provision for binding arbitration was void. Also any agreement to preclude or limit the continuity of sex discrimination proceedings unless reached in accordance with the Equality Act was also unenforceable. Clyde & Co’s application for an injunction was therefore dismissed.

Key point: Dispute resolution clauses are common but cannot be relied on to preclude an individual from pursuing their employment tribunal claims. It is understood Clyde & Co are seeking leave to appeal the High Court’s decision.