Unfair dismissal territorial jurisdiction

Posted: 22nd February 2012

The Supreme Court has dealt with a further case concerning territorial jurisdiction in unfair dismissal claims (Ravat v Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd), which is likely to have relevance for a much larger group of employees than those categories of overseas worker described by Lord Hoffmann in Lawson v Serco Ltd. as having an exceptional right to bring an unfair dismissal claim to the Employment Tribunal (ET).
Runway at night
Mr Ravat began working for Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd., a UK-based subsidiary of Halliburton Inc, in 1990. In 2003, he accepted a transfer to Libya and worked a pattern of 28 consecutive days abroad followed by 28 consecutive days spent at home in the UK. His travel costs were paid for by Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd. even though the actual work he was doing was for the benefit of another Halliburton subsidiary in Germany, which was charged by the UK-based subsidiary for his services.
In May 2006, Mr Ravat was dismissed as redundant and was paid a redundancy payment in accordance with the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA). He brought a claim for unfair dismissal. Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd. argued that the ET did not have jurisdiction to hear his claim.
The Supreme Court ruled that the list of exceptions in Lawson is not exhaustive but gives examples of situations where the correct test is met, this being where the employee’s connection with GB and British employment law is sufficiently strong to show that Parliament must have intended that Section 94(1) of the ERA should apply It will be a question of fact and degree as to whether the connection is sufficiently strong to overcome the general rule that the place of employment is decisive in determining jurisdiction.
Applying those principles to Mr Ravat’s case, the Court ruled that the ET did have jurisdiction to hear his claim, which was therefore remitted for consideration on its merits.