In the recent case of EF and anor v AB and ors the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) clarified that the right to respect for one’s private life under the Human Rights Act overrides Employment Tribunal rules on reporting restrictions.

EF was CEO of a company group. AB was managing director of a company within that group and brought a claim against EF. The claim, which the tribunal dismissed in its entirety, included sordid details of EF’s private sexual activity with his wife.

The key issue for the EAT lay in the tribunal’s application of the rules on restricted reporting orders. Although the tribunal had made a temporary restricted reporting order to prevent the parties in the case from being identified until the case had concluded, it would not make this permanent. The tribunal considered that this was justified by what it termed “the general human interest in sex and money involving relatively rich people”. Employees should be aware of the activities of their directors. Further, the tribunal felt that EF’s wife’s right to privacy could not apply in this case as she had not given evidence to the hearing.

EF and his wife appealed to the EAT which held that their right to a private life outweighs the public interest and employees’ interests arguments. The EAT also found that the tribunal should not have ignored the human rights of EF’s wife simply because she had not given evidence.