The case involves a woman, Bushra Ibrahim, who was employed in the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau in Dublin between June 2013 and June 2017, working mainly on student requests submitted through an online portal.
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In a preliminary hearing to consider only the immunity issue, at the Labour Court last year, Ms Ibrahim said that in February 2017 her role was changed from academic adviser to academic co-ordinator with the cultural centre, and that for the following eight to nine weeks she attended work only to sign in in the morning, and sign out in the afternoon. Her employment was then terminated.
The kingdom, in response, said Ms Ibrahim was on a one-year fixed term contract, that her contract expired in June 2017, and that her dismissal consisted only of non-renewal.
The court said it accepted that the woman’s employment contracts contained a clause purporting to invest the courts in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, with exclusive jurisdiction to deal with any disputes.
However, the court accepted Ms Ibrahim’s evidence that she was merely presented with her contract of employment in Arabic for the purpose of signing it, and was not afforded an opportunity to read it in detail.
It followed, therefore, that the former employee, (who is fluent in English and Arabic), had not given meaningful consent to the exclusive jurisdiction clause in the contracts.
“That being the case, the court finds that the [kingdom] is not entitled to rely on Article 11.2 (f) of the United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities and their Property 2004.”
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