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Contact with chambers should be made through the Practice Management Team. They are happy to discuss client requirements and provide further information on such matters as the expertise and experience of individual members, fees, working practices and languages spoken. We have members able to work in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Greek and Chinese (Mandarin).

Outside working hours, a member of our team is always available to be contacted on matters of an urgent nature. Contact should be made using the Chambers main number or email.

To contact our Singapore office, please contact our BD Director, Asia, Rachel Foxton. Out of office hours calls will automatically be diverted to our clerking team in London.

London

20 Essex Street
London
WC2R 3AL

enquiries@twentyessex.com
t: +44 20 7842 1200
DX 0009 Lond/Chan Lane

Singapore

28 Maxwell Road
#02-03
Maxwell Chambers Suites
Singapore 069120

singapore@twentyessex.com
t: +65 62257230

Contact

Contact with chambers should be made through the Practice Management Team. They are happy to discuss client requirements and provide further information on such matters as the expertise and experience of individual members, fees, working practices and languages spoken. We have members able to work in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Greek and Chinese (Mandarin).

Outside working hours, a member of our team is always available to be contacted on matters of an urgent nature. Contact should be made using the Chambers main number or email.

To contact our Singapore office, please contact our BD Director, Asia, Rachel Foxton. Out of office hours calls will automatically be diverted to our clerking team in London.

London

20 Essex Street
London
WC2R 3AL

enquiries@twentyessex.com
t: +44 20 7842 1200
DX 0009 Lond/Chan Lane

Singapore

28 Maxwell Road
#02-03
Maxwell Chambers Suites
Singapore 069120

singapore@twentyessex.com
t: +65 62257230

14/06/2019

Employment tribunal rules that diplomatic immunity does not protect Saudi diplomat from claims of human trafficking and modern slavery

The Employment Tribunal held on 13 June 2019 that a current Saudi diplomat is not immune from the civil jurisdiction in relation to claims instituted by his domestic servant relating to work in his home in assumed conditions of human trafficking and modern slavery.

The Judge interpreted the exception to diplomatic immunity for a “commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in the receiving state outside his official functions” (Article 31(1)(c) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, incorporated into English law by the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964) as applying to the trafficking and employment of a domestic servant in conditions of modern slavery. Observing that “it would be difficult for a court to forsake what it perceived as a legally respectable solution”, the Judge refused to strike out the case.

The Judgment is groundbreaking because it holds that a current diplomat is not immune in relation to claims of human trafficking and modern slavery. In October 2017, the UK Supreme Court in Reyes v Al-Malki [2017] UKSC 61 had held that a former diplomat was not immune in those circumstances, but the Justices had been split (3-2) on whether a current diplomat still enjoyed immunity.

The Employment Tribunal has adopted the dicta reasoning of the majority in the Supreme Court (Lord Wilson, with whom Lady Hale and Lord Clarke agreed) that the commercial activity exception must be interpreted taking into account the relevant rules of international law including the universal determination of the international community to combat human trafficking. The “relevant activity” for the commercial activity exception to apply is not just the employment, but the trafficking and servitude of the domestic worker. The exploitation of the domestic worker by the employer drives the entire trafficking chain, from the recruitment overseas to the harsh working conditions without proper pay.

The Judgment transforms the dicta of the Supreme Court into a ratio that can be applied in other cases, advancing the commitment of the international community, and the United Kingdom in particular, to end modern slavery.

Philippa Webb (instructed by Nusrat Uddin of Wilsons Solicitors LLP) acted for the Claimant.

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Philippa Webb
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