MONCKTON Chambers has scored a victory at Luxembourg’s Court of First Instance (CFI) that will see the European Commission pay out almost £30m in damages to UK workers.
More than 100 contractors at Joint European Torus (Jet), the EU’s largest nuclear fusion research project, brought claims against the Commission under two linked cases, Eagle & Ors v Commission and Sanders & Ors v Commission.
The majority of the claimants were from the UK and all worked for Jet at its base in Culham, Oxfordshire. They were not given the status of European employees as they were deemed to be contracted as third parties.
This status remained despite many of the contractors having worked for Jet full time for between 15 and 20 years rather than on a temporary basis.
This meant the contractors were denied the same pay, any pension rights and other benefits that were afforded to the EU employees they worked alongside.
Monckton’s Daniel Beard, who led in Eagle & Ors, said the court’s ruling in favour of the contractors showed that Europe cannot discriminate.
“As the judgment summarises, there has to be equal treatment for staff,” said Beard. “You can’t pretend that somebody’s in a different position due to their legal relationship when the function they provide is exactly the same as that of an employee.”
Following a seven-year legal battle involving three hearings in Luxembourg, the CFI ruled that the Commission had committed serious misconduct by practising long-term discrimination against the claimants.
Monckton’s Peter Roth QC, Ian Hutton and Ben Lask made representations to the CFI on behalf of the claimants in Sanders & Ors.
The Commission was represented by its internal legal service. It was unavailable for comment.