Employment appeal tribunal upholds decision to hear unfair dismissal claim

employment appeal tribunal A UK employment appeal tribunal (EAT) has upheld a tribunal’s decision that it had jurisdiction to hear the unfair dismissal claim brought by an employee who worked on a superyacht which had not entered UK waters.

Lindsay Gordon, originally from Aberdeen, was a stewardess working on a superyacht managed by the Yacht Management Company. Her employment contract terms detailed that her place of work and accommodation was on the vessel.

The organisation was registered in Guernsey and did not conduct any UK business. Its management, payroll and HR functions were undertaken outside of the UK.

Gordon was made redundant while signed off as unfit to work in October 2021. She brought various claims against the employer in an employment tribunal, including unfair dismissal, however the business argued that the tribunal did not have territorial jurisdiction to hear them.

The EAT upheld the tribunal’s finding that it did have jurisdiction to hear her claims and carried out an analysis to determine territorial jurisdiction.

It found that Gordon’s base was her UK home in the UK on the grounds that it was the location of the bank account into which her salary was paid, her accounting to HMRC for tax, the governing law of her employment contract, the basis upon which her redundancy pay was calculated, and that the business had a contractual responsibility to pay for her travel expenses between her home and the vessel. As a result, she was entitled to bring an unfair dismissal claim.

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Lord Fairley said: “It was clearly open to the judge to conclude that the claimant’s duties began and ended in Great Britain, that being the place where she commenced her various journeys to join the vessel and to which she returned after her tours of duty on the vessel. In addition to the issue of where the claimant commenced and ended her duties, relevant and material factors included those recorded by the judge. No error of law is apparent in the judge’s approach.”

Yacht Management Company was contacted for comment prior to publication.