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Employee could not bring ET claim after his move to Dubai

02 October 2014 #Employment

The Court of Appeal has restored an employment judge`s decision that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear claims for unfair dismissal and breach of the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing where the claims were brought by an employee of a British company who had moved to work in Dubai ( Creditsights Ltd v Dhunna [2014]).

CSL had an office in London and in New York. About 135 employees covered accounts across the world. Which office was responsible for which client depended on where the client`s head office was located. In broad terms, CSL Inc covered the US and the Americas, although it had some Asian accounts, while CSL covered Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Mr Dhunna`s website profile described him as part of the CSL European sales team.

In 2008, Mr Dhunna proposed that he move to Dubai to undertake a business development role to increase sales in Asia and Africa. He did not want to retain any legacy European accounts. The opening of a Dubai office was organised from New York without input from London.

The employment judge found that Mr Dhunna regarded his move to Dubai as permanent or semi-permanent, noting that:

  • Mr Dhunna had obtained a three-year visa and intended to renew it if he was still working in Dubai when it expired.
  • Mr Dhunna had married shortly before his move but had not bought a house in the UK.
  • In an email that he sent to a colleague shortly before his move, Mr Dhunna stated that he was glad to be leaving the UK and hoped never to return.

The employment judge held that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear the claims. He reasoned that he general rule was that it was very unlikely that someone working abroad would have the right to claim unfair dismissal, even if they were working for an employer based in the UK.  The employment judge also found that Mr Dhunna had failed to establish a sufficiently strong connection with Great Britain and British employment law to fall within an exemption from the general rule that place of employment is decisive. The EAT had remitted the case for a fresh tribunal to undertake a comparison of the law in Great Britain with the jurisdiction where the employee was working at the time of his dismissal, to determine which was the better system of law. However, the Court of Appeal held that there was no support in the authorities for any such comparison and upheld the ET’s decision.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
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