Gagging orders and Harassment

In the UK gagging orders for harassment cases have made the headlines and despite the fact that this is happening in the Uk it is surely worth noting and seeing what is being recommended.

The Women & Equalities Committee of the House of Commons has produced its report on The Use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in Discrimination Cases

This is an extract from the summary, which gives a clear indication of what it aims to achieve:

“The difficulties of pursuing a case at employment tribunal and the substantial imbalance of power between employers and employees, mean that employees can feel they have little choice but to reach a settlement that prohibits them speaking out.Our Report shows unequivocally that in many cases signing a non-disclosure agreement is not benign.”

Obviously employers will not find a point in settling the case unless they have peace of mind that there will be confidentiality as otherwise what is the point of them paying someone off ? As James Laddie QC, who makes a comment on Twitter, puts it:

“I believe the committee understates the value of NDAs. In most (not all) cases, they are essential to parties avoiding an expensive and traumatic hearing that neither side wants. It’s true that NDAs harm the public interest inasmuch as they make it much more difficult for allegations of discrimination & harassment to come to light. But the public interest in enabling litigants to settle their disputes is at least as important.”