Courts of England and Wales – Best Place to Litigate?

I previously blogged in August about the divorce tourist (see record UK divorce payout) who have come to the UK for the potential benefit of litigating in the UK. However my attention has been drawn by my employment team  that it is not just those wishing to divorce that issue here.

The Court of Appeal has just upheld an employment tribunal’s decision that it had jurisdiction to deal with claims for race and age discrimination cases brought by cabin crew employed on flights between Hong Kong and London.

The case of British Airways Plc v Mak & others concerned M and 15 other claimants who were all Hong Kong based cabin crew on flights to and from the UK.

All were recruited in Hong Kong and ordinarily resident there. They were compulsorily retired at age 45 whereas other international cabin crew working out of London are not forced to retire and they therefore brought age and race discrimination claims in the UK.

The tribunal found that it had jurisdiction to hear the claims and rejected BA’s argument that claimants work should be treated as done in Hong Kong. Despite the fact that M only worked 5% of her time in the UK,  the tribunal said that her role could not be done without it and the Court of Appeal upheld the tribunal’s decision that section 8(1) of the Race Relations Act 1976 applied.

It is probably not appropriate for me to hand out my employment brochures to cabin crew members on my flight to Hong Kong next month but the reporting of this case is yet more bad publicity for British Airways.


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