The Court of Appeal, in a Judgment handed down today, declared the State Immunity Act to be incompatible under the Human Rights Act.
ATLEU represented the Claimants who were domestic workers seeking to stop state immunity applying to their employment claims. Ms Janah and Ms Benkharbouche, Moroccan nationals, were employed directly by the states Libya and Sudan. They claimed that they were paid grossly under the national minimum wage, forced to work unlawful hours, unfairly dismissed and (in Ms Janah’s case) discriminated against on racial grounds.
The Court of Appeal concluded that the State Immunity Act is incompatible with the Claimants’ right of access to a court under the European Convention of Human Rights, and is discriminatory. It issued a declaration of incompatibility under Human Rights Act and confirmed that the Claimants' claims under EU law (for unlawful discrimination and breach of working time law) can be litigated in the UK courts despite the contrary provisions of the State Immunity Act.
The Court of Appeal Judgments in the cases of Reyes and Suryadi v Al Malki and Al Malki were also handed down today. ATLEU acted for both Claimants, identified by the Home Office as victims of trafficking. The Claimants sought to bring employment claims against their employer, a Saudi Arabian diplomat. Despite the seriousness of the Claimants' allegations, the Court of Appeal held that they cannot pursue their claims: the doctrine of immunity trumps any rights that they have as victims of trafficking.