Law Report: No Need to Establish Foreseeability of Psychological Injury in Race-Discrimination Case ; 23 January 2004 Essa V Laing Ltd ([2003] EWCA Civ 02) Court of Appeal, Civil Division (Lord Justice Pill, Lord Justice Clarke and Lord Justice Rix) 21 January 2004

Article excerpt

SECTION 57 of the Race Relations Act 1976 provides:

(1) A claim by any person . . . that another person . . . (a) had committed an act of discrimination against the claimant . . . (b) . . . may be made the subject of civil proceedings in like manner as any other claim in tort . . .

It was not necessary for a claimant to show that the particular type of loss suffered was reasonably foreseeable in order to be entitled to compensation for unlawful racial discrimination.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of Laing Ltd against the Employment Appeal Tribunal's decision to remit to an employment tribunal the issue of damages payable to Yassin Essa following a finding of racial discrimination in his favour.

Mr Essa, who was black, was a Welshman who had lived in Cardiff all his life, and who had represented Wales many times as an amateur boxer. He was employed by Laing Ltd as a construction worker, and in the course of that employment he was referred to by his foreman as "a black cunt".

Mr Essa complained to an employment tribunal of race discrimination, claiming that as a result of the foreman's offensive remark he had suffered from depression and had been unable to look for work, and that his boxing had also been affected.

The tribunal found that Mr Essa's claim was made out, and awarded him compensation of pounds 591.76 for financial loss, and pounds 5,000 for injury to feelings. The tribunal, in calculating the compensation, held that Laing Ltd was only liable for such foreseeable loss as had been directly caused by the discriminating act.

Mr Essa's appeal against the compensation award was allowed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which held that the tribunal had taken the wrong approach to the assessment of damages under s 57 of the Race Relations Act 1976, and remitted the matter to the tribunal. …