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Client awarded £167,021 in compensation against the Embassy of the State of Qatar

Judge orders Embassy of the State of Qatar to pay £167,021 in compensation and £20,000 in legal costs to Mr Ahmed after he was successful in his claims for race discrimination and harassment. The Tribunal also made a number of significant recommendations under the Equality Act 2010.

A remedies hearing took place today at the London Central Employment Tribunal. The judgment against the Embassy of the State of Qatar was made in March 2019, in which their Medical Attaché, diplomat Mr Abdullah Ali Al-Ansari, was found to have racially discriminated against and harassed Mr Ahmed on 8th August 2013 by calling him “donkey,” “dog” and “black slave” and assaulting and dismissing him. 

The £167,021 awarded to Mr Ahmed today included aggravated damages, interest  and compensation for personal injury, injury to feelings and loss of earnings.  The far reaching recommendations made under the Equality Act 2010 required that within two months, the Embassy provide equality and diversity training by external equality and diversity consultants for Mr Al-Ansari as well as all staff including all other members of its diplomatic mission. The Tribunal also recommended that the Embassy introduce an equal opportunities policy and a separate harassment policy and ensure its policy is effectively implemented.

Mr Ahmed was represented in these proceedings by Rachel Lester of Axiom Stone Solicitors and Ed Kemp of Littleton Chambers.

We are absolutely delighted with the award that has been made to Mr Ahmed today. It has been a long journey to see justice done. The total award for damages is far above the usual awards made by Tribunals and reflects the seriousness of the Tribunal’s findings.

Whilst this case gives hope to others, claims against  Embassies would be lost should the UK come out of the EU without a deal on 31st October 2019, particularly where   Embassies are reluctant to waive immunity or expel their diplomats. Unfortunately in this case, the State of Qatar does not appear to have taken any action against Mr Al-Ansari, despite the Judgment against them.

It is also unfortunate that because the British government has prioritised Brexit over its domestic legislative agenda, employment rights such as unfair dismissal are currently not available to Embassy employees because the State Immunity Act has not been amended.” Rachel Lester, Axiom Stone Solicitors   

The judgment against the Embassy of the State of Qatar represents a milestone in employment law, as it is believed to be one of the first such judgments against an Embassy. UK citizens, such as Mr Ahmed could lose their rights to bring such claims should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

The remedies hearing determined Mr Ahmed’s claims for aggravated damages, loss of earnings, personal injury, injury to feelings and interest. It also heard Mr Ahmed’s application for a costs order against the Embassy as a result of the Qatari Embassy’s unreasonable conduct in withdrawing from the Tribunal proceedings midway through the liability hearing in March.

Previously Embassies were able to hide behind the defence of immunity but because of the landmark decision of the Supreme Court in 2017 in the case of Benkharbouche, where the Court found that certain provisions of the State Immunity Act were incompatible with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 47 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, they were now unable to do so. 

However, whilst the Benkharbouche decision has permitted Mr Ahmed to pursue his race discrimination claim, as a claim based on rights conferred by EU law and protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, he still cannot  pursue his claims of unfair and wrongful dismissal. Because these are founded in domestic legislation, until the UK government amends the State Immunity Act to enable these claims to be pursued, the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear them. Instead, Mr Ahmed is pursuing a claim for damages against the UK government in Strasbourg for its failure to amend the State Immunity Act, in breach of his Article 6 rights.

Justice has been a long wait for Mr Ahmed who is now 79 and who presented his claim to the Employment Tribunal almost six years ago before it was stayed until the question of state immunity was considered in the higher courts.

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