Can I bring a claim for unfair dismissal in the UK if I live in the USA and work on a Cayman Islands owned ship?

Yes, said the EAT in Crew Employment v Gould.

Mr Gould, a US resident, was the captain of a superyacht, the Amaryllis, which was registered in the Caymans and owned by a Guernsey company. The ‘effective’ owner of the yacht was however Mr Borodin, a wealthy individual living in the UK. Mr Borodin determined the itineraries for the Amaryllis. Sailings were mostly to and from the UK. Mr Borodin had interviewed and recruited Mr Gould, and later promoted him to captaincy. It was from him that the Claimant took his instructions.

The EAT considered whether the claimant habitually carried out his work in the UK within the meaning of the Brussels I Regulation EU 1215/2012 (Brussels Recast). The Amaryllis spent 50% of its time docked in UK waters. Crossings to and from the UK were frequent. The claimant lived on the Amaryllis and habitually carried out work in the UK. Instructions came from a UK resident even if he was not the legal employer. Brussels I is to be interpreted broadly. The absence of any particularly strong links to any other jurisdiction was not irrelevant.

The EAT then considered whether the territorial scope of the Employment Rights Act 1996. Relying on Underhill LJ’s summary in British Council v Jeffery [2019] ICR 929 the EAT held that there was a sufficiently strong connection with the UK and no requirement that the connection should be truly exceptional. Mr Gould had jurisdiction.

This legal update by Karen Jackson first appeared on Daniel Barnett’s Employment Law Bulletin