Territorial jurisdiction: establishing a close connection with Great Britain
Monday 26th September 2016
In Jeffery v the British Council, the EAT held that an employee working for the British Council in Bangladesh was able to bring claims under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Equality Act 2010.
Mr Jeffery first began working for the British Council in 1994 and during his employment he was, for all but two short periods, based overseas. At the time of his dismissal he was a Teaching Centre Manager in Bangladesh.
He brought claims under the ERA and EqA, but the ET held that it did not have jurisdiction. Generally an employee working or based abroad at the time of dismissal is excluded from protection. However, there are exceptions. For example, where the employee is peripatetic but based in Britain, or is posted abroad by a British based employer to work in a British business or works in a British enclave.
Although the EAT considered that it was not necessary for Mr Jeffery to bring himself within the confines of the existing exceptions, he was required to establish an especially strong connection to Great Britain and to British employment law, rather than with any other legal system.
The Teaching Centre which Mr Jeffery managed was a local business, managed locally and reliant on generating fee income to provide funding. Mr Jeffery was at all material times working outside the UK, did not ordinarily live in the UK, did not have a home in the UK, although he owned some rental properties, visited the UK and hoped to retire in the UK.
Notwithstanding the above, the EAT overruled the ET, pointing out that:
- Mr Jeffery was a UK citizen, recruited in the UK to work for a UK organisation;
- His employment contract was subject to English law;
- He was entitled to a Civil Service Pension and no locally employed teachers were entitled to this benefit;
- Mr Jeffery’s salary was subject to a notional deduction for UK income tax (essentially basic rate tax) to maintain comparability with staff working in the UK; and
- The British Council was a public body and, while not directly part of the government, it played an important role for the UK.
The EAT considered that, based on all five factors it identified, Mr Jeffery had established an overwhelmingly closer connection with Great Britain and British employment law.
All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.