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Sex Discrimination - Territorial Jurisdiction

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[Thanks to James Medhurst of Employment Law Advocates for preparing this case summary]

The Court of Appeal has handed down its decision in Ministry of Defence v Wallis, in which it held that two wives of British servicemen, who worked for the Ministry of Defence in Belgium and the Netherlands, had a sufficiently strong connection with Great Britain to claim unfair dismissal. The women had been dismissed because their husbands ceased to be employed by the armed forces.

In finding that it had jurisdiction to hear the claims, the Employment Tribunal took into account the fact that the claimants worked on terms and conditions which were subject to English law and that they were only eligible to work on those terms because they were married to members of the armed forces. Elias LJ stated that the analysis of the employment judge was "both cogent and convincing".

The Court of Appeal also held that it was necessary to confer jurisdiction to hear the claims for sex discrimination in order to give the claimants effective protection of their rights under European law.