Employment Appeal Tribunal
An employment tribunal had been correct to find that it had no territorial jurisdiction to hear an unfair dismissal claim from a British woman who worked in Africa for a British-based faith organisation.
The appellant (W) appealed against an employment tribunal's decision that it had no jurisdiction to hear her claim of unfair dismissal.
W had worked for the respondent Christian mission agency (C). C was a voluntary society which worked with churches in Great Britain and was actively involved in mission work abroad. W worked for a year at C's headquarters in Oxford before commencing her post as a regional manager based in Africa. Her role was to decentralise the mission's work from its central Oxford base into the African regions. Her line manager was based in Africa, as were other members of her team. She was dismissed on the ground of redundancy. An employment tribunal found that it had no territorial jurisdiction to hear her claim as she was effectively working for the overseas branch of a British undertaking.
W submitted that she was C's foreign correspondent, or alternatively she was entitled to parallel protection because she fell within the residual category set out in Lawson v Serco Ltd  UKHL 3,  1 All E.R. 823 as she had a connection with Britain as strong as that of a foreign correspondent.
HELD: (1) Five gateways to jurisdiction had been set out in Lawson and in W's case it was the three expatriate categories which were relevant. The focus of W's work was decentralisation from Oxford to Africa. She had been in Africa for eight years, and was engaging in work overseas. W did not therefore fall within the first category of expatriates, often called "the foreign correspondent" category, Lawson followed and Burke v British Council considered. It was common ground that W did not fall within the second category of expatriates, those working in a British enclave abroad (see para.18 of judgment). (2) It was telling that none of the highly experienced members of the Bar appearing before the House of Lords in Lawson, nor the Law Lords, had been able to find an example to fit the third expatriate or residual category. In the time since the judgment in Lawson there had only been one such case, Ministry of Defence v Wallis  EWCA Civ 231,  2 C.M.L.R. 42. That case was not a wholly new example in the residual category but was an extension of the enclave category, Wallis considered. In the instant case, since it had been permissible for the employment judge to form the view that W was not within the foreign correspondent category, and no new material had been adduced for the third category, both grounds of appeal had to fail (para.19).
William Meade (Senior Clerk)