Cloisters and Mills Kemp earn Lords victory on UK employment wrangle

In a victory for Cloisters and Barnsley firm Mills Kemp & Brown, the House of Lords has handed down a crucial decision clarifying employee rights.

Mills Kemp client Stephen Lawson appealed a 2004 Court of Appeal judgment which ruled that he was not able to claim for unfair dismissal against his employer Serco because he worked on an RAF base on Ascension Island.

Lawson said that, because he worked for a UK company on an extra-territorial UK enclave, he was covered by UK employment law. Two similar cases, Botham v Ministry of Defence and Crofts v Veta, were conjoined. On 26 January the Lords agreed, ruling that while the law generally applies only to those living and working in the UK, there are certain exceptions. For instance, a foreign correspondent on the staff of a UK newspaper dismissed while working abroad would be able to claim for unfair dismissal.

Mills Kemp partner Jonathan Brain instructed Cloisters tenant Jacques Algazy for Lawson. Morgan Cole partner Helen Goss instructed Matrix Chambers’ Thomas Linden for Serco.

For the related cases, Brighton firm Dean Wilson Laing instructed Old Square Chambers’ Frederic Reynold QC for successful applicant John Botham. The Ministry of Defence was represented by Treasury Solicitor’s counsel Jonathan Crow of 4 Stone Buildings. Eversheds‘ Mark Davenport instructed 11 King’s Bench Walk’s James Goudie QC for Cathay Pacific subsidiary Veta, which lost its appeal, while employment specialist firm Simpson Millar instructed Devereux Chambers’ David Griffiths-Jones QC for the claimant airline pilots from Crofts.