When Can Employees Working Abroad Bring Claims for Unfair Dismissal in Great Britain?

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In the recent case of Ravat v Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd the Supreme Court confirmed that whether an employee is entitled to the right not to be unfairly dismissed depends on whether Great Britain is the place with which, in comparison with any other, their employment has the closer connection.

This DechertOnPoint explores the background to the decision in Ravat and summarises the key principles to be drawn from it.

The Background

The territorial scope of British employment law is an important question for employers to consider as they become increasingly international and employees are required to move around the world to service trans-border business. The fact that an employee works outside Great Britain does not necessarily mean that the employment law of Great Britain will not apply. In order to reduce the potential exposure to claims, employers should therefore be aware of the rights to which their international employees are entitled, including the right not to be unfairly dismissed.

Section 94 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which confers on employees the right not to be unfairly dismissed, is silent on its territorial scope and it has therefore been for the courts to interpret its territorial application. In Lawson v Serco Ltd in 2006 the House of Lords (now the Supreme Court) outlined the following three types of case by reference to which eligibility to claim unfair dismissal is to be assessed...

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