Leading employment lawyer Dr John McMullen has commented on the use of so-called gagging orders by UK universities

Dr John McMullen, a Partner in the Employment Team, said:

“The volume of settlements within the sector using NDA’s should come as no surprise.

“Employers have tended automatically to use NDAs and ‘gagging’ clauses but the government is consulting about legal regulation to prevent their misuse.”

“There is a growing feeling that these restrictions should certainly be easier to understand, making it clear that reporting of misconduct to the police and appropriate regulators is allowed.”

Dr McMullen’s comments follow a BBC investigation which revealed UK universities have spent nearly £90m on pay-offs with non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) since 2017.

96 universities responded to Freedom of Information requests from the BBC, which asked how much they had paid in settlements that included ‘gaggling clauses’.

This showed that £87m was spent on around 4,000 settlements in the last two years, with many universities saying they were unable to reveal why the agreements were signed.

Dr McMullen has wide experience in handling employment tribunal claims including equality law, unfair dismissal and whistleblowing.
He is also a leading expert on TUPE, including public sector transfers and service provision change.

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