Protection of Corporate Whistleblowers in Australia

December 2023
Region: Asia Pacific

Guidance From Flori v Winter [No 3] [2023] QCA 229

In 2019, Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) was strengthened to protect eligible whistleblowers in the corporate sphere. These were important reforms, with the provisions performing a critical role in preventing and uncovering corporate misconduct and criminal activity, and are weighted towards protecting whistleblowers from potential significant personal harm and financial loss.

However, unfortunately, on occasion the whistleblower protections are abused. Corporate entities that are confronted with questionable claims to whistleblower protections can face an unpalatable situation of adverse publicity and legal costs if they reject the claim to protections (even if successful) and potential criminal sanctions if they are found to have made the wrong call.

While the whistleblower protections that apply in government are, in many cases, very different, the comments of the Queensland Court of Appeal in the recent case of Flori v Winter [No 3] [2023] QCA 229 are informative.