Employment Cases Update

Benkharbouche v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2017] UKSC 62

Date published: 23/10/2017

The question in this case was whether the state is immune as respects proceedings concerning the employment of members of a diplomatic mission, including its administrative, technical and domestic staff.

The two claimants were domestic workers in the UK embassies in London of Libya and Sudan respectively. Both made claims arising out of their employment. They were met with pleas of State Immunity, which were upheld by two separate ETs. They appealed on the basis that the plea of immunity denied them access to court to enforce their rights, relying upon the decisions of the ECtHR in Cudak v Lithuania and Sabeh el Leil v France to establish that this had been in breach of Art.6 ECHR. The EAT allowed the appeal (read the case here) and the Court of Appeal upheld the EAT decision (read the CoA case here). The Secretary of State appealed.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the EAT decision, remitting the case to an ET. Sections 4(2)(b) and 16(1)(a) of the State Immunity Act 1978 will not apply to the claims derived from EU law for discrimination, harassment and breach of the Working Time Regulations.

Read the full text of the judgment on Bailii