Workplace Monitoring and the Right to Private Life at Work

Date01 July 2018
Published date01 July 2018
AuthorJoe Atkinson
of the critical issues, seems to have reached the logical conclusion of the
trend towards autochthony. Beyonics reveals the dangers of a narrow vision
of autochthony on matters of common law doctrine. It failed to consider
relevant cases from other Commonwealth jurisdictions that would have either
placed the SGCA’s ultimate decision, which denied the plaintiff its hard-won
millions, on sounder doctrinal footing, or at least offered an opportunity for
the SGCA to come to an informed conclusion as to the course Singapore law
should take. There is no question that the SGCA is capable of considering a
wide array of sources, foreign and domestic, judicial and academic – when it
chooses to do so. Examples of the SGCA’s active engagement with difficult
corporate law issues include Townsing (on reflective loss and nominee directors’
duties), Scintronix (illegality and corporate attribution),115 and Skandinaviska
(agency).116 By comparison, Beyonics was not only a missed opportunity for
Singapore to make itself heard in corporate (group) jurisprudence, but also a
loss for the greater commonwealth of ideas.
Workplace Monitoring and the Right to Private Life
at Work
Joe Atkinson
In Barbulescu vRomania, the European Court of Human Rights clarified the application of the
Article 8 right to private life in the workplace, and the extent of the state’s positive obligations
to protect the right against workplace monitoring. The decision establishes that there is an
irreducible core to the right to private life at work that does not depend on an employee’s
reasonable expectations of privacy, and sets out clear principles for striking a fair balance
between Article 8 and the employer’s interests in the context of workplace monitoring. This
article considers the nature of states’ positive obligation to protect human rights at work, the
scope of the right to private life, and the impact of the decision on domestic law of unfair
The position of authority and control held by employers creates a risk that
they might interfere with the human rights of their employees. The increas-
ing use of technology in workplaces makes this danger particularly acute in
115 Ho Kang Peng vScintronix Corp Ltd (formerly known as TTL Holdings Ltd) [2014] SGCA 22; [2014]
3 SLR 329.
116 Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (Publ), Singapore Branch vAsia Pacific Breweries (Singapore) Pte
University College London. An early draft of this paper was presented to the UCL Public Law
Group, and I thank Jeff King for the opportunity as well as all those present for their helpful
comments. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewer. Any errors remain entirely my own.
688 C2018 The Author. The Modern Law Review C2018 The Modern Law Review Limited.
(2018) 81(4) MLR 673–700

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