A judge has told a Polish law student that, as she did not have a working relationship with an east London firm, she cannot bring a claim against it.

Sitting in the East London employment tribunal, employment judge Russell said the claimant, named as Mrs J Pachwicewicz, had no work contract, either written or verbal, with Wilsons Solicitors (UK) Limited. She was therefore not an employee or worker, and the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear complaints of failure to pay minimum wage or provide payslips.

The tribunal heard that the claimant, an international law student, had met with Wilsons’ principal Dir Diriwari in June 2019 and she introduced at least five clients to the firm. She also submitted invoices for her interpreting services provided before and after court hearings.

The dispute followed a dinner meeting at which the claimant said they agreed she would work a 20-hour week at £9 an hour. Diriwari said work was not discussed at all, let alone any employment relationship.

Over the subsequent days, the claimant sent Whatsapp messages and even attended the Wilsons office, only to be told to book an appointment.

Several more messages were sent to Diriwari without reply before he finally responded in November 2019 to assert he had never agreed she would work 20 hours a week.

Employment judge Russell said neither the claimant nor Diriwari were credible or reliable in their evidence: the claimant, he noted, ‘clearly feels passionately that she has been deceived or betrayed by Dr Diriwari and her evidence was coloured throughout with rather extreme emotion’. The judge also noted it was ‘simply not plausible’ that Diriwari would have ignored the claimant’s employment assertions if he had no knowledge what she was talking about.

The judge found the pair had discussed whether the claimant could work for the firm but there was no contract agreed, despite the claimant going on to spend a lot of time seeking to assist Polish contacts. Diriwari had allowed the claimant to believe that such an agreement was possible but he did not agree it would happen.


* Clarification: The Wilsons Solicitors referred to in the judgment is the practice based in Barking, East London and not any firm with a similar name.


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