Complaint under the Equal Status Act 2000
Vladimir Kosjakov and Larissa Feklina v Peter Sobolewski
Vladimir Kosjakov and Larissa Feklina referred a claim to the Director of Equality Investigations under the Equal Status Act alleging that Peter Sobolewski discriminated against them on the ground of race in connection with his letting of a house to them and his attempt to get them to vacate the house. In accordance with the due delegation to me by the Director of her powers under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004, I investigated the case.
A hearing was fixed for 15 December 2006 but was adjourned on the application of the respondent for stated work-related reasons. He asked that the hearing take place during a school holiday period. A hearing during the Christmas school holidays, however, was not suitable to the complainants because of their circumstances at that time which were explained to me. On 22 December, I notified the parties that the hearing would take place on 23 February 2007.
On 13 February, I received a letter from the complainants indicating that they had instituted High Court proceedings against certain parties and that they could not pursue any other legal proceedings until these were concluded. On 14 February, I replied refusing to grant an adjournment on the basis of this as, in itself, it did not constitute a sufficient ground to do so. On 20 February, the complainants wrote again reiterating that they would be unable to participate in other legal proceedings until the High Court had made its decision. They had applied for an Order recognising as unlawful all legal proceedings that had taken place over a certain period including the complaint to the Equality Tribunal. Participation in the Tribunal investigation would be construed as an offence. On 22 February I replied, by letter delivered by courier to the complainants' address, stating that I was not prepared to adjourn the hearing. I noted that no evidence had been presented to show that the complainants were prohibited from proceeding with their Tribunal complaint nor was any Court Order or other document submitted which would support their contention that it was unlawful for them to pursue the claim. The copies of the High Court Plenary Summonses furnished with the letter received on 13 February named a number of persons as defendants but the Tribunal was not among them. I pointed out that, if they failed to attend the hearing, the complainants would not be able to establish a case that they had been discriminated against.
The complainants failed to attend the hearing. I deferred starting it for 30 minutes in case they arrived or made contact to indicate what their intentions were. However, I have not heard from them since.
It is necessary for complainants to attend the hearing, make their case and answer the questions of the respondent and the equality officer. Since these complainants have not done so, my decision is in favour of the respondent.
6 March 2007