British national unable to bring a claim in either the Employment Tribunal or the Employment Appeal Tribunal

2014-01-21 Jennifer Renney posted:

The Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal recently considered whether a British national working on a Singapore-flagged ship for a Singaporean employer could bring claims in the English Employment Tribunals for discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of contract.

Mr Hasan, a British national, was employed by Shell International Shipping Services (PTE) Ltd (Shell Shipping), a company registered in Singapore. Shell Shipping contracted out Mr Hasan's day-to-day management to a company registered in the Isle of Man and also entered into a manning agreement with an English company. A jurisdiction clause was incorporated into Mr Hasan's contract, which stated that the contract was enforceable under English law. Mr Hasan spent his leave in the UK and was paid in sterling. During his 23-year employment, Mr Hasan worked for 19 months on UK-flagged vessels.

Mr Hasan was dismissed while working on a ship, the Galea, which had a Singaporean flag. He was informed of this by a letter sent from an address in the Isle of Man. Mr Hasan brought tribunal claims for discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of contract against Shell Shipping, and failed. He appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The Tribunal dismissed Mr Hasan’s claims, because at the time of the dismissal, he was working wholly outside the jurisdiction of Great Britain. Although Mr Hasan spent 19 months of his employment on UK flagged vessels, the only acts he complained about concerned his employment on the Galea, the vessel where he was dismissed. The Galea was not a UK-registered vessel at the time, and did not enter British waters. Furthermore, Mr Hasan’s unfair dismissal and contract claims failed because the employer did not reside or carry on business in England and Wales, and is therefore outside the jurisdiction of the UK.

In today’s modern age when people are increasingly working abroad, it is important for employees to be vigilant with their employment rights. Just because your employment contract says it is enforceable under English law, it does not necessarily mean it can be enforced in England and Wales. Under new regulations introduced in 2013, an Employment Tribunal has jurisdiction to deal with proceedings where one of the following applies:

  • The employee resides or carries out business in England and Wales
  • One or more acts or omissions complained of took place in England and Wales
  • The claim relates to a contract under which the work is or has been performed partly in England or Wales

Unfortunately for Mr Hasan, he was not able to satisfy any of these rules. Even though his contract of employment said it was enforceable under English law, in reality he was unable to do so. For more information about your rights under a contract of employment, contact Ms Renney today at Renney and Co Employment Solicitors on 01225 632240 or at jennifer@renneyandco.com.

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