A European Court of Human Rights ruling in favour of a UK employee who complained about telephone, email and internet monitoring may have implications for employment law.

The ruling, delivered last week, backed Lynette Copland’s complaint that, during her employment at Carmarthenshire College, her telephone, email and internet usage had been unlawfully monitored by her employer.

While it accepted no domestic law existed at the time to regulate monitoring and that it might sometimes have been legitimate for an employer to monitor and control an employee’s use of telephone and internet, the court unanimously found in favour of the violation of Copland’s right to respect for private life and correspondence.

Copland was awarded 6,000 euros (£4,083) in costs and 3,000 euros in damages.

But experts have said the case demonstrates the need for clearly understood acceptable use policies, where employees are notified that their communications may be monitored, according to the guidance given in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000.