Congress approved a new law regulating the protection of individuals who report violations of regulations and the combat against corruption a few days ago, finally completing its parliamentary process. The deadline for the transposition of the European Directive 2019/1937 has come quite tardily since it expired in December 2021.
The rules have not received the backing of organizations that defend whistleblowers who have played a pivotal role in uncovering corruption schemes in public administrations, such as the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN), Xnet, Government Accountability Project, The Signals and Blueprint for Free Speech. However, in the business bosoms, the norm in general has sparked concern, since with this regulation, they may create irreparable reputation problems.
When a whistleblower's complaint goes to the media, "the company is sentenced to two terms: that of the judge and that of the company." According to Felipe Garca, a lawyer from the Crculo Legal Madrid company, "The company is sentenced to two terms," but he can bypass these avenues and make a public disclosure directly.
"The public opinion is lost at the moment the complaint is filed," says Garca, who believes that all complaints will be filed in good faith. Even if it is proved to be false, the company's reputation might be greatly harmed."
Our legal system provides a strong safeguard for business secrets; however, the regulation concerning whistleblower protection is orphaned to provide this protection.
In addition to being sued in civil lawsuits for damages, those who reveal business secrets may be the subject of a complaint or lawsuit; nevertheless, whistleblowers may trust and seek protection in the new protection standard for whistleblowers, in order to avoid condemnatory sentences falling on them.
After waiting many years for this long-awaited regulation, the lawyer for Circulo Legal Madrid insists that "the law is very open to interpretations and may not yield the expected results," and that "it is necessary to achieve a good relationship between the whistleblowers' rights and those of the company," so that the latter does not suffer from perverse actions of whistleblowers in bad faith, who seek vengeance, and where, in addition, its secrets are exposed.