The question of respect for private life and correspondence arose in the case of Barbeulescu –v- Romania in the European Court of Human Rights. The Claimant was an engineer who had used his business email account to send and receive personal messages with members of his family and fiancée. This amounted to a breach of his contract and having discovered this by chance his employers dismissed him. The Claimant argued that his personal communications should not have been taken into account as part of evidence as it breached his right to privacy.
Although the European Court of Human Rights agreed that Article 8 was triggered they said that the Romanian courts had been right to look at the evidence in deciding whether the dismissal was justified as they recognised the need for employers to be able to verify that employees are completing professional tasks during working hours.
Interestingly the European Court seemed to be persuaded by the fact that the Romanian Court Judgment did not reveal the content of the personal messages sent by the Claimant.
Therefore employers should be cautious and rather than looking at content of personal emails they should rely on the number and frequency of personal messages.
Lord Justice Briggs has published an interim report on the Civil Courts structure. With the suggestion that the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal should be moved within the Civil Court structure. We will keep you updated. The final report is not due to be published until July 2016.