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Accounts manager who commuted to Libya was employed in UK

Supreme Court says tribunal can hear claim

20 February 2012

An accounts manager who worked in Libya, and whose manager was based in Cairo, was employed in the UK and could claim unfair dismissal, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Ismail Ravat worked for a subsidiary of Halliburton based near Aberdeen, which provided tools, services and personnel to the oil industry.

Ravat worked for 28 consecutive days in Libya, and then had 28 days to himself which he spent at home in Preston, in what was effectively a job share arrangement.

He was described by Halliburton as a ‘UK commuter’.

Giving the leading judgment in Ravat v Halliburton Manufacturing and Services [2012] UKSC 1, Lord Hope said case law had established that section 94(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 must have some territorial limits, but, in an age of increasing labour mobility, the problem remained.

An employment tribunal sitting in Aberdeen held that it did have jurisdiction to hear Ravat’s unfair dismissal claim. The decision was set aside by the EAT, but he appealed successfully to the Inner House of the Court of Session.

Lord Hope said: “It is true that at the time of his dismissal the respondent was working in Libya and that the operations that were being conducted there and in which he worked were those of a different Halliburton associated company, which was incorporated and based in Germany.

“It is true also that the decision to dismiss him was taken by Mr Strachan who was based in Cairo. But I would not attach as much importance to these details as I would have done if the company for which the respondent was working in Libya was not another associated Halliburton company.

“The vehicles which a multinational corporation uses to conduct its business across international boundaries depend on a variety of factors which may deflect attention from the reality of the situation in which the employee finds himself.”

Lord Hope said “all the other factors pointed towards Great Britain as the place with which, in comparison with any other, the respondent’s employment had the closer connection”.

Lord Hope dismissed Halliburton’s appeal and remitted the case to the employment tribunal. Lady Hale and Lords Brown, Mance and Kerr agreed.

Categorised in:

Contracts & Rights Termination