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Does the duty to collectively consult employees regarding redundancies apply to employees based outside the UK?

04 August 2017 #Redundancy

The EAT has determined in Seahorse Maritime v Nautilus International that the duty to collectively consult in a redundancy situation can extend to employees working outside of the UK, but cautioned each case will depend on its own facts.

Seahorse Maritime (“Seahorse”) was a company registered in Guernsey. Its employees were stationed on ships in waters across the world (mostly outside UK and European waters). It decided to take a number of ships out of service, and made the crew members of these ships redundant. Nautilus International (a Trade Union recognised by Seahorse) brought a claim arguing that Seahorse had failed to collectively inform and consult with its employees in respect of these redundancies and therefore the employees of Seahorse were entitled to a protective award. The ET upheld this claim.

Seahorse appealed but the EAT dismissed the appeal. The test is whether there was “sufficiently strong” connection between the employees concerned and the UK. In this instance, the UK based employees could show such a connection to the UK as these sea farers were “international commuters”. Their contracts were governed by UK employment law, they resided in the UK when not at sea, and commuted to work from the UK. Further Seahorse had used a UK based administrative agent to carry out the administration with respect to its employees.

The EAT expressly warned that every case is different, and stated that if only one of a crew of 20 was UK-based or domiciled, this duty to consult would not arise, even if these contracts were governed by English law.


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Charlotte Gough

Charlotte Gough

E: cgough@clarkslegal.com
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