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Territorial Jurisdiction

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[Thanks to Leanne Targett-Parker of Temple Court Chambers for providing this case summary]

The EAT (Underhill P) has handed down its decision in MOD v Wallis, which is authority for the propositions that:

a) when working in Europe for an organisation, and being eligible for that position because the Claimants were the spouses of UK armed forces personnel, there is a sufficiently close connection between that employment and Great Britain to be within the scope of domestic, unfair dismissal legislation; and,

b) despite, on a literal reading s6 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, an ET would lack jurisdiction on a sex discrimination claim in Europe, the Equal Treatment Directive is intended to confer rights on expatriate employees and domestic rules limiting territorial scope must be displaced, enabling the ET to have jurisdiction on a sex discrimination claim at least within Europe.

The Claimants were wives of service personnel working at NATO headquarters in Europe, employed by schools attached to those headquarters, and were dismissed when their husbands' service ended.

This case goes marginally further than the Lawson v Serco 'special connection' being a feature of the work done, by including as a factor the trigger for the employee's eligibility to apply for the job.