Case focus – Mohamed Abdulaziz Mohamed Ali Al Emadi v Horizon Crescent Wealth LLC
Case: Mohamed Abdulaziz Mohamed Ali Al Emadi v Horizon Crescent Wealth LLC – QFC 013/2020,  QIC (F) 12
Jurisdiction: Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)
Court: Qatar Financial Centre – Court of First Instance
Recommended by: SOL International Ltd
What Happened: An application arose in the context of a claim against the Defendant under an alleged oral contract of employment. The Claimant argued that by virtue of an oral agreement entered into on 22 March 2015 between the Claimant and Mr Robert Sharrat, acting on behalf of the Defendant, the Claimant was employed as Deputy Chairman of the Defendant between 1 July 2015 and 27 March 2018. He also argued under this agreement, he was owed substantial sums by the Defendant.
The Statement of Defence set out that there was never an employment contract between the Defendant and the Claimant, that the Claimant was not employed by the Defendants, and that the Claimant was not owed any monies. Additionally, claims of fraud against the Claimant were brought to the attention of the Court, however, these claims were not correctly particularised, and no relief was sought by virtue of such claims.
The Claimant asserted that the Statement of Defence was too vague and subsequently requested more information from the Defendant, which was not provided even after the Court granted Orders.
Instead, the Defendant filed a letter from a Mr Robert Sharrat acting on behalf of the Defendant, to the Defendant’s Director stating that there was never an employment contract between the Claimant and the Defendant. However, this letter was neither a response to the Claimant’s application nor was it an attempt to comply with the Court’s Orders.
What was Decided:
After non-compliance by the Defendant and after a further application by the Claimant, the Court ordered that the Defence be struck out. The Claimant filed and served an application for summary judgment against the Defendant to which no opposing application was filed.
The Claimant also filed bank statements depicting sums which were consistent with payments made by or on behalf of the Defendant. Additionally, a letter signed by Mr Sharrat setting out the employment of the Claimant was also relied upon by the Claimant. The Court held that the letter was sufficient to establish the employment of the Claimant with the Defendant in the absence of an employment contract and in addition, showed the Claimant’s entitlement to monthly earnings of QAR 148,000.
A summary judgment was eventually granted for unpaid sums in respect of the Basic Salary. The submitted bank statements supported the payment of such earnings over a four-month period but did not indicate any payments being made beyond those four months.
Although the documentation did not determine a fixed period of employment, it was found by way of engagement, that the term of employment was most likely indefinite.
There was no supporting evidence that the Defendant agreed to pay the Claimant a guaranteed bonus. Under QFC Employment Regulations, a “bonus” is to be awarded based on extraordinary performance by the employee, which was not substantiated in this case.
The Claimant sought payment of expenses in respect of air travel and accommodation. This was found to have not been reasonably incurred in furtherance of the Defendant’s business and summary judgment was not granted under this claim.
The Claimant also sought interest on his claims. At that stage, the Claimant was entitled to the delay in payment of sums that the Court found to be Basic Salary. The Court also found that an enhanced rate of interest be applied to the principal sum in the event the Defendant failed to make a timely payment of the sum found judicially due.
In light of the Claimant’s success in his claim, the Court found that he was entitled to reasonable costs pursuing the claim with the exception of the orders for costs that were already made.
Why is this relevant:
This case is significant as it highlights the QFC Court’s inclination to safeguard employees’ rights and interests. Orally agreed employment contracts can be viewed as substantial evidence of employment if parties act in furtherance of the provisions that would ordinarily be set out in a written employment contract.
In addition, it demonstrates the procedure for summary judgments and sets out that actions which are or become undefended do not entitle a Claimant to summary judgment, but rather adds an extra level of judicial scrutiny.
This publication is not intended to offer legal advice and is solely for informational purposes.
Also published by LexisNexis Middle East in the LexisNexis Middle East HR Alert February 2022