Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 17, 2003

Following the guidance laid down by the Court of Appeal in Angela Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (2002) EWCA Civ 1871, the applicant's award for injury to feelings was reduced as, although the race discrimination suffered had been serious, it had not been exceptional and properly fell within the top bracket for awards.Appeal on the issue of quantum in a claim for race discrimination. In 1998, the employment tribunal upheld the applicant's ('Y') claim for race discrimination against the London Borough of Hackney ('LBH') and the respondent ('C'). At a remedies hearing in October 1998, the LBH agreed to pay Y ?380,000, representing £333,700 in special damages and interest thereon, plus £40,000 as general damages including injury to feelings plus interest at £6,300. In respect of C's personal liability, the employment tribunal's decision was based on three separate counts of race discrimination: (i) Y had allegedly covered up "fraud, corrupt acts and improper behaviour" whilst working for LBH; (ii) Y had allegedly granted another employee a sabbatical year as a reward for that employee signing Y's naturalisation papers; and (iii) the manner in which C had caused Y's name to be included on a police list of suspects. The case received much adverse publicity and, consequently, the allegations became widely known and Y's reputation was affected. In view of the seriousness of the discrimination suffered, the employment tribunal awarded £45,000, comprising £35,000 for injury to feelings and £10,000 for aggravated damages, with interest thereon of £14,400 against C. C appealed the substantive decision and quantum. The Employment Appeal Tribunal ('EAT') allowed the substantive appeal, with the quantum appeal being scheduled for a later date. In the interim, Y successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal, which restored the original substantive decision. See Angela Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (2002) EWCA Civ 1871. When the quantum appeal came before the EAT, proceedings were stayed pending that Court of Appeal decision.HELD: (1) The employment tribunal had made it clear that C's liability was separate from that of LBH. The award against C had concerned "those acts of racial discrimination for which [he was] solely liable". (2) Following the decision in Vento (supra), awards for injury to feelings had to be assessed according to the three broad bands of compensation. Given the serious nature of the discrimination suffered, the present case clearly fell within the top band of awards between £15,000 and £25,000. (3) The question was whether it was "exceptional" so as to merit an award in excess of £25,000, ie £35,000. On that point, the court disagreed and awarded £25,000, taking into account the damage to Y's reputation (although limited to injury to feelings arising out of the damage to reputation), the public aspect of the case and the campaign of discrimination by C. (4) The court also accepted that the £25,000 limit imposed by Vento (supra) did not embrace aggravated damages. It agreed with the employment tribunal and upheld the award of £10,000 for aggravated damages. Particular notice was taken of C's attitude to the saga and it was held that the award was justified. (5) As regards interest, given the reduction of the main award, it followed that the figure for interest required adjustment. In sum, Y's award was reduced to £25,000 for injury to feelings, £10,000 for aggravated damages, and interest at £23,800.Appeal allowed in part.