Devereux silk seals victory for BA in cost-cutting dispute

Devereux Chambers’ Bruce Carr QC has won a victory for British Airways in the Court of Appeal after it upheld the airline’s right to determine staff levels on its flights.

Old Square Chambers’ silk John Hendy QC was instructed to act for the three representative cabin crew claimants who sought an injunction to compel BA to reverse the costs-cutting measures it introduced to its onboard crew levels in 2009.

Hendy argued that the crew levels had been collectively agreed with the Unite union and had been incorporated into their individual employment contracts and, therefore, were enforceable by them on an individual basis. This means that crew members could refuse to work if BA decided to, or was obliged to, fly an aircraft without the agreed crew complement.

Carr argued that BA never intended the collective agreement with Unite over crew complements and that they were never incorporated into individual contracts.

Upholding BA’s argument Lady Justice Smith said  there could be “disastrous consequences” for BA if the contract were to be individually enforceable, adding: “It seems to me that they are so serious as to be unthinkable.”

Hendy, who has acted for Unite throughout its long running legal battle with BA (4 November 2009), led Oliver Segal also of Old Square Chambers, having been instructed by OH Parsons & Partners partner Steve Cottingham.

Baker & McKenzie partner John Evason and BA head of employment Julia Harrison jointly instructed Carr to lead Andrew Burns also of Devereux Chambers.