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14 January 2015

Diplomatic chauffeur wins right to bring bullying claim

In the case of Nayif v The High Commission of Brunei Darussalam an important decision that will come as a comfort to anyone who has suffered mistreatment in the workplace, a diplomatic chauffeur who claims that years of bullying caused him serious psychiatric injury has had his compensation hopes boosted by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Nayif, who worked for a foreign high commission, claimed to have been left with severe mental scars by the persistent harassment and abuse he suffered. He launched proceedings under the Race Relations Act 1976 but had his Employment Tribunal (ET) claim struck out because it had been brought outside the three-month time limit which applies to such cases. That ruling was subsequently upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Faced by that impasse, he tried to take a different legal route and lodged a High Court negligence claim against the high commission. His claim was, however, stymied by a judge's decision that he was barred from pursuing a case that was based on the same facts as those in the original proceedings before the ET. The judge acknowledged that his ruling might work 'a grave injustice' and reached his conclusion 'with considerable reluctance'.

In allowing Mr Nayif's appeal, and opening the way for his claim to proceed to trial, the Court of Appeal noted that, otherwise, the merits of his case would never have been substantively considered. That would be fundamentally unjust and potentially a disproportionate interference with his human right to a fair hearing.

There can sometimes be more than one way to argue a point. Contact employment law partner and practice group leader Jo Davis on 01753 279029 or email employmentlaw@bpcollins.co.uk for advice on the best approach to deal with employment law issues.

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