Claim No. SCT 322/2022
THE DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTRE COURTS
In the name of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
Ruler of Dubai
IN THE SMALL CLAIMS TRIBUNAL OF DIFC COURTS
BEFORE H.E. JUSTICE MAHA AL MHEIRI
|Hearing :||3 October 2022|
|Judgment :||12 October 2022|
JUDGMENT OF H.E. JUSTICE MAHA AL MHEIRI
UPON the Claim Form being filed on 31 August 2022
AND UPON a Hearing having been held before H.E. Justice Maha Al Mheiri on 3 October 2022, with the Claimant and Defendant’s representative attending
AND UPON reviewing all documents and evidence submitted in the Court file
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. The Claimant’s Claims shall be dismissed.
2. Each party shall bear their own costs.
Date of issue: 12 October 2022
1. Licia (hereafter the “Claimant”) is an individual formerly employed at Liesma.
2. Liesma (hereafter the “Defendant”) is a limited liability partnership, incorporated located, operating, and registered within the DIFC.
3. On 31 August 2022, the Claimant filed a claim in the DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal (the “SCT”) seeking payment of sums allegedly entitled to her as a result of her former employment with the Defendant. The total claim value is in the amount of AED 60,280.
4. On 6 September 2022, the Defendant filed an Acknowledgment of Service and its defence to this Claim.
5. On 19 September 2022, the parties met for a Consultation before SCT Judge Maitha Al Shehhi. However, they were unable to reach a settlement. In line with the rules and procedures of the SCT, this matter was referred to me for determination, pursuant to a Hearing held on 3 October 2022.
6. The Claimant contends that she entered into an employment contract with the Defendant on 15 July 2022 (hereafter the “Employment Contract”) to undertake the position of ‘Legal Secretary’ working within the Insurance Department of the Defendant and located at the Defendant’s Dubai offices, in the DIFC. The Claimant was due to report directly to the Head of the Insurance Department. The Claimant commenced her employment on 15 July 2022, and the Employment Contract provided as follows:
“The Employment Contract included a monthly salary of AED 12,000.00. The Claimant’s Employment Contract included a probationary period for the first six months of employment, it also included a notice of termination of two weeks within the probationary period as per Clause 2.2 of the Employment Contract.”
7. On 19 August 2022, the Claimant’s employment was terminated with immediate effect upon the Claimant’s receipt of a termination notice issued by the Defendant (the “Termination Notice”), which reads as follows:
“This is to notify you that unfortunately Liesma will not be continuing with your services during the probationary period. As per Clause 2.2 of your Employment Contract you will be given two weeks’ notice. However, you will not be required to attend the office after today to complete the notice period.
Your last salary and any leave accrued till date will be paid to you and any sums due to the firm by you will be deducted from your final settlement in line with the DIFC Employment Law.”
8. The Claimant contends that a notice period of two weeks does not constitute a reasonable period for the Claimant to secure alternative employment.
9. As a result, the Claimant proceeded in filing a case against the Defendant seeking damages in the amount of AED 60,280 which is particularised as follows:
(a) 3 months’ remuneration in lieu of her notice period in the amount AED 36,000;
(b) Compensation for causing undue stress moral damages AED 20,000; and
(c) Payment of the Court fee.
10. When initially filing her Claim with the SCT on 31 August 2022, the Claimant had sought to claim payment of an alleged parking fee. However, this was later withdrawn by the Claimant, as stated in her Reply to Defence dated 23 September 2022. Therefore, the remedy sought by the Claimant is as follows:
(a) 3 months’ remuneration in lieu of her notice period in the amount Three months of the Claimant’s salary AED 36,000:
(b) Compensation for causing undue stress for material and moral damages AED 20,000; and
(c) Payment of the Court fee.
11. The Defendant submits that the Claimant’s claims have no legal basis under the Employment Contract.
12. The Defendant submits that the Employment Contract is dated 5 July 2022, and that the Claimant commenced employment with the Defendant on 15 July 2022.
13. The Defendant submits that the Claimant was employed in the position of ‘Legal Secretary’ in the ‘Insurance Department’ over the period of 15 July 2022 to 2 September 2022, however, within this period, between 19 August 2022 to 2 September 2022, the Claimant was tendering her notice period, during which time she was not required to attend the offices of the Defendant.
14. The Defendant submits that the Claimant’s employment with the Defendant was terminated during her period of probation, which was six months pursuant to clause 2.2 of the Employment Contract.
15. The Defendant submits that the Claimant was handed the Termination Notice in an in-person meeting on 19 August 2022 and that the Defendant sent an email to the Claimant on the same day attaching the Termination Notice.
16. The Defendant denies that it was required to provide a reason for the Claimant's termination as her employment was terminated during her probationary period pursuant to and in accordance with clause 2.2 of her Employment Contract.
17. The Defendant submits that it was obliged, pursuant to paragraph 2.2 of the Employment Contract to provide the Claimant with two weeks' notice prior to termination, which it did, as outlined within the Termination Notice.
18. The Defendant denies that the Claimant was dismissed with immediate effect as the Claimant was provided a two week notice period, pursuant to the terms of the Employment Contract.
19. The Defendant submits that it was not obligated to issue any written warnings or notifications to the Claimant pursuant to the DIFC Employment Law or Employment Contract, as her employment was terminated during her period of probation.
20. The Defendant submits that the request, under the Termination Notice that the Claimant not to attend the offices of the Defendant to perform her notice period was in accordance with clause 12.2 of the Employment Contract, which states“Once notice of termination has been given to You, the Firm reserves the right to require You not to attend work or carry out any duties for the Firm for all or part of the notice period”.
21. The Defendant denies that it is liable to compensate the Claimant as alleged, or at all. The Defendant seeks dismissal of all of the Claimant’s claims.
22. The DIFC Courts and the SCT have jurisdiction over this case as it concerns employment within the DIFC and the amount in question is less than AED 500,000. This dispute is governed by the DIFC Law No. 4 of 2021 (Employment Law Amendment Law) (hereafter the “DIFC Employment Law”) and the DIFC Law No. 6 of 2004 (hereafter the “DIFC Contract Law”) in conjunction with the relevant Employment Contract and other valid agreements between the parties.
23. In sum, there is one main issue in this case: is the Claimant entitled to compensation under the Employment Contract other than the notice period?
24. It is important to note at the outset that the Claimant’s Employment Contract is not contested in any way by both parties, so it will be taken into consideration to establish the Claimant’s rights in this Claim.
25. Under Clause 2.2 of the Employment Contract, it states that in the situation of termination of the Claimant in the probation period the Claimant is entitled to two weeks’ notice prior to termination.
“The first six (6) months of the Agreement [Employment Contract] shall be probationary. During the Probationary Period either Party may terminate the Agreement [Employment Contract] by giving a notice of two weeks”.
26. When terminated within the probationary period, a notice of two weeks is required to be provided to the employee. The Defendant was obliged, pursuant to Clause 2.2 of the Employment Contract to provide the Claimant with two weeks’ notice prior to termination, which the Defendant did, as indicated in the Termination Notice.
27. The Claimant is entitled to be paid by the Defendant all dues owing to the Claimant including her salary and leave/holiday entitlements from the commencement date until the date on which the notice period ended.
Compensation for causing undue stress for material and moral damages
28. The Claimant seeks payment from the Defendant in the amount of AED 20,000 as compensation for the alleged stress for material and moral damages that had fallen upon the Claimant as a result of the Defendant’s actions.
29. The Defendant submits that the Claimant was terminated according to her Employment Contract and the DIFC Employment Law.
30. The circumstances that have fallen upon the Claimant, while unfortunate, do not meet the burden that the Claimant would have to prove in order to demonstrate that she has suffered undue damage at the hands of the Defendant. An employment relationship can be terminated at any stage during the course of an employment, and, should that occur, the employee should expect some form of inconvenience. I do not find it appropriate to order any compensation to be paid to the Claimant as it is my view that the Claimant failed to provide evidence to demonstrate the stress for material and moral damages that she has been subjected to by the Defendant.
31. Accordingly, I dismiss the Claimant’s claim for compensation for undue stress and victimisation.
32. Therefore, the Claimant is not entitled to any compensation under the Employment Contract other than from the commencement date of her employment with the Defendant, that is 15 July 2022, until the date on which the notice period ended, that is 2 September 2022, which, has already been paid by the Defendant to the Claimant.
33. The Claimant’s Claims shall be dismissed.
34. Each party shall bear their own costs.