Jurisdictional queries for multinational employers
ECJ backs right of employees of Ryanair to bring claims in their habitual country of work. In the joined cases of Nogueira and Osacar, the… Read more
ECJ backs right of employees of Ryanair to bring claims in their habitual country of work.
In the joined cases of Nogueira and Osacar, the ECJ has clarified that Ryanair was not able to rely on a standard jurisdiction clause contained within its employment contracts, which stated that any disputes should be brought in the Irish courts. Certain employees of Ryanair based in Belgium sought to assert their rights in the Belgian courts, a position agreed with by the ECJ. It was held that that the material test for jurisdictional purposes should be the location where the employee “habitually carries out his work”. For most employees, this is likely to be a straightforward question, but for peripatetic employees such as airline staff, this can be a more complicated assessment.
On the facts, the ECJ considered it useful (but not conclusive) that the employees’ contractual “home base” was specified to be Belgium. However, the Advocate-General also stressed that a multifactorial approach should be adopted when assessing a “habitual country of work”, including considering:
– the place where employees start and finish work;
– the place where employees receive instructions and briefing about work; and
– the actual office address.
On balance, Brussels was the place of work for the employees of Ryanair, and so the airline could not rely on the contractual stipulation that claims should be brought in Ireland.
Comment: This decision is perhaps not unexpected, but serves as a useful reminder that multinational employers should not expect to be able to impose a “one-size” employment model onto their global workforce, even within the EU. This can lead to increased costs associated with having different structures in place in different jurisdictions, and it is advisable to seek local legal advice if this is relevant for your business
Nogueira & Ors v Crewlink // Osacar v Ryanair