Supreme Court allows domestic workers to bring claim against Saudi diplomat despite his claiming diplomatic immunity


The Supreme Court has ruled that a Saudi diplomat, facing allegations of exploiting two domestic workers, is no longer entitled to diplomatic immunity.

The landmark ruling comes after the two women took their case against Jarallah Al-Malki to an Employment Tribunal.

Cherrylin Reyes, from the Philippines, and Titin Rohaetin Suryadi, who hails from Indonesia, allege they were paid less than the National Minimum Wage and had to endure unacceptable  working conditions and racial harassment when employed at the diplomat’s London home in 2011.

The pair claimed they had been working 18 hours a day, seven days a week and weren’t permitted to leave the residence unless accompanied by family members.

Both Mr Al-Malki and his wife were initially able to avoid answering the claims, after claiming diplomatic immunity.

However, the Supreme Court has this month ruled that the Tribunal case could proceed.

Judges concluded that the couple were no longer shielded because Mr Al-Malki’s posting in the UK had finished.

Ms Reyes said: “I am delighted that the Supreme Court agrees that I can take my claim against the Al-Malkis.

“I know there are lots of other domestic workers who have suffered like me and I am delighted that they will be able to use this case to get redress, and that they will not have to wait as long as I have done.”

There are estimated to be 17,000 domestic workers in the UK, the majority of whom come from Africa and Asia. Around 300 of these individuals are employed by either diplomats or foreign embassies.

A number of cases – including some that Carter Lemon Camerons has been involved with – had been stayed pending this week’s decision.

For advice on Employment Tribunal claims please contact Andrew Firman.

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