Lack of jurisdiction ends former Simmons & Simmons partner’s discrimination claim

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22 January 2018

Passmore: Senior partner gave evidence

An employment tribunal has rejected claims of race and sex discrimination by a former equity partner of leading City firm Simmons & Simmons because the events complained of took place in Paris and so outside of its jurisdiction.

Noro-Lanto Ravisy, who was head of private equity in the firm’s Paris office, also brought an equal pay claim, comparing herself to three other partners in the Paris office, against one of whom, head of corporate Christian Taylor, she brought separate discrimination claims.

The hearing before Employment Judge Auerbach in London dealt solely with the jurisdiction issue but both Simmons & Simmons and Mr Taylor dispute the claims. Senior partner Colin Passmore gave evidence at the hearing.

Ms Ravisy, who is French qualified, is of dual Madagascan and French nationality and was a partner in the Paris office of US firm Nixon Peabody before it was closed in 2012.

She joined Simmons in 2013, and by 2016 was on the membership appraisal committee – which approved new partners – and served as a trustee of the firm’s charitable foundation.

In the summer of 2016, she was served with a notice of retirement – for reasons not set out in the judgment – which took effect on 31 December 2016. She unsuccessfully appealed internally.

The tribunal held that Ms Ravisy did not have a strong enough connection with the UK for it to have jurisdiction. Though the London headquarters had a measure of control over the Paris office, her role was almost entirely based in France and in French law.

Judge Auerbach said: “Her visits to London were… too ad hoc, brief, and intermittent. She had no desk or other dedicated support when in London.

“Though they were made on firm business, and no doubt of value to the firm, I had no hard evidence that they were for the purpose of any fee-earning work (though she may have kept on top of her own client work while on a visit).”

Further, it was accepted that Ms Ravisy would have an effective remedy available to her in France.

Simmons & Simmons had no comment. We have not yet been able to contact Ms Ravisy.

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