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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions >> Karia v ICS (Management) Services Ltd  EWCA Civ 1025 (21 June 2001)
Cite as:  EWCA Civ 1025
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COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM THE WATFORD COUNTY COURT
(HIS HONOUR JUDGE ANSELL)
B e f o r e :
LADY JUSTICE ARDEN
|- v -|
|ICS (MANAGEMENT) SERVICES LTD||Respondent/Defendant|
Smith Bernal, 190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2HD
Telephone 020 7421 4040
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR D PLATT (instructed by Messrs Berrymans Lace Mawyer, London EC2M 5QN) appeared on behalf of THE RESPONDENT
Crown Copyright ©
Thursday 21 June 2001
"The Plaintiff commenced work .... in 1989. She wrote to her supervisor complaining of pain in her right hand on February 12th 1993. She repeatedly complained verbally that the computer felt stiff to use. By July 1993 she reported that the pain was severe enough for her to take pain killers in order to keep on working. She lost her job [on 14 February 1994] since she was no longer able to work effectively on the keyboard. The pain was due to Repetitive Strain Injury."
"Further, the Defendant acted reasonably when the claimant made her initial allegations of pain in her hands, wrists and arm.
(a) The Defendant investigated the allegations of victimisation by the Claimant. The Claimant made clear that her complaint against the Defendant was not in relation to the system of work, but that a person or persons unknown were tampering with the software/keyboard in such a fashion as to slow the operation of the keyboard down and/or alter the operation of the cursor. It was this that she alleged gave rise to her symptoms. The Defendant thoroughly investigated but could find no evidence of such victimisation.
(b) The Defendant supervised the operation of the keyboard when the Claimant was working at data inputting. At no stage did the alleged keyboard defect manifest itself and the Claimant alleged that the defect only re-appeared when employees of the Defendant were not monitoring her.
(c) The Defendant offered to change the work station, keyboard, identification code and password of the Claimant.
(d) The Defendant took advice from software experts .... who advised it that such manipulation of the system to the disadvantage of the Claimant was not possible.
(e) In the premises, the Defendant reasonably and correctly concluded that the allegations of harassment were a figment in the Claimant's mind."
"As alleged in my statement, I will be charging [and she named five of the respondent's employees] for plotting conspiracy against me. I am also accusing them of alleged discrimination and harassment at the work-place. By sabotaging and intruding my computers, altering system priorities for individual users and tampering my system, by slowing the response of the system and thus making keys go hard and stiff; also stopping the automatic display of the data coming up on my screen, with the intention of causing bodily harm and causing health hazards and thus causing disabling injury.
In spite of making my employers aware of the victimisation and also the health hazard and danger created to me, failure by the employers to take any action to stop this health hazard has created this injury and the consequence of inaction is injury."
".... the issue has narrowed somewhat in that the claimant's allegations against the defendant will focus on the keyboard and computer terminal that she was using and the way in which she will contend that was interfered with..... She maintains that the keyboard was programmed in such a way as to be stiff in its operation so that she had to press it very hard.... the way in which her particular software operated was also tampered with so that when she came to enter the various slips on the screen she was forced to use an excessive number of keystrokes."
"If I reject these, if I can call them discrimination issues, is that an end to the case as far as liability is concerned?
COUNSEL: Well, your Honour, l think it must be because it is her case that but for that interference she was perfectly able to do the work.
THE JUDGE: So otherwise the system was safe, effectively?
"The court has to deal with facts and, no disrespect to Mrs Karia, she may indeed sincerely believe that these things have happened. I am sure that she does, but I am afraid the court cannot deal, as I say, with fancy. It has to deal with facts and she has to prove her case on the balance of probabilities, and to my mind one does not even get to that stage as far as her case is concerned.
There is an additional legal problem as far as I am concerned, and that is the responsibility of .... the defendants in this case, for these acts.....
For my part, I cannot possibly see how intentional conspiracy alleged in this case begins to be the responsibility of [the defendants] unless it is shown that they were part and party to it. And when it did come to their attention .... there were scrupulous attempts to change the software, change the ID, change the terminals on two occasions. And, moreover, these matters were thoroughly investigated in two disciplinary hearings .... And they certainly took it seriously."
"The defendants have not breached any of the regulations. The equipment in use is satisfactory for its purpose and is well maintained. The system of work is satisfactory and the suggestion made by the claimant that only when she operated the system it became defective is totally groundless."