Carver (Nee Mascarenhas) v Saudi Arabian Airlines: CA 17 Mar 1999

The applicant was recruited in Saudi Arabia in 1986 as a flight attendant under a contract expressed to be subject to Saudi Arabian law. After being trained in Jeddah, and then employed in India for four years, she was transferred to be based in London, from which all her tours of duty as a flight attendant thereafter commenced, and at which they ended. She complained of unfair dismissal and of sex discrimination.
Held: By reference to the relevant test at the time for the jurisdiction of UK tribunals in relation to unfair dismissal, she did not ordinarily work in Great Britain. So far as concerned the sex discrimination claim, the applicant’s appeal was allowed to the extent that the issue was remitted to a differently constituted tribunal to determine where the applicant wholly or mainly did her work at the relevant time. When a tribunal has to decide where an employee ‘ordinarily works’, the tribunal must look to the entire period of the contract, and not to some smaller, artificial, part. A contract begun and substantially worked in Jeddah was not subject to UK law. As to the term ‘ordinarily’: ‘Here the position was quite different. The Tribunal had to consider where at the time of the alleged discrimination the appellant was ‘wholly or mainly’ working [our underlining]. See Haughton v Olau Line (UK) Ltd [1986] ICR 357 in the Court of Appeal. However, the tribunal decided jurisdiction on where the applicant was ordinarily working. That was impermissible. Insofar as the tribunal purported to make a finding of fact as to where the applicant was wholly or mainly working, it seems to me that it did so without any evidential basis. The tribunal appears to have taken the monthly, minimum, flying time, namely 72 hours, required of the applicant and set it against a notional working week of 40 hours. By such a comparison it would seem that the applicant worked most of her time within Great Britain. But neither the 72 hours minimum flying time nor the notional 40-hour week had any relevance to the question which had to be determined. Consequently I would hold the finding to be without any foundation and as such to amount to an error of law. I would be minded therefore, to remit the question of jurisdiction under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to the tribunal, differently constituted, with a direction to determine the question of jurisdiction on the basis of where the applicant wholly or mainly did her work at the relevant time.’


Mantell LJ, Beldam LJ and Ward LJ


Times 24-Mar-1999, Gazette 27-Jun-1999, [1999] EWCA Civ 1002, [1999] ICR 991




Employment Rights Act 1996 196


England and Wales


DistinguishedTodd v British Midland Airways CA 2-Jan-1978
The court discussed the test to be applied to an employment to see whether a British court had jurisdiction over it: ‘But in other cases there is more difficulty. I refer particularly to the type of case we have here of the airline pilot. He is . .

Cited by:

CitedSerco Ltd v Lawson and Foreign and Commonwealth Office CA 23-Jan-2004
The applicant had been employed to provide services to RAF in the Ascension Islands. He alleged constructive dismissal. There was an issue as to whether somebody working in the Ascension Islands was protected by the 1996 Act. The restriction on . .
CitedSaggar v Ministry of Defence EAT 25-May-2004
Three Defence employees sought to bring claims of variously race and sex discrimination against the Ministry. In each case their services were provided almost entirely abroad, and the defendant argued that there was no jurisdiction to hear the case, . .
CitedSaggar v Ministry of Defence CA 27-Apr-2005
The claimant sought to bring an action for race discrimination. The defendant argued that the alleged acts of discrimination took place whilst he was on a posting abroad in Cyprus after serving 16 years in England, and that therefore the tribunal . .
CitedCrofts and others v Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and others CA 19-May-2005
The claimants were airline pilots employed by the respondent company with headquarters in Hong Kong. The court was asked whether an English Tribunal had jurisdiction to hear their complaints of unfair dismissal.
Held: The pilots were employed . .
CitedSerco Ltd v Lawson; Botham v Ministry of Defence; Crofts and others v Veta Limited HL 26-Jan-2006
Mr Lawson was employed by Serco as a security supervisor at the British RAF base on Ascension Island, which is a dependency of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena. Mr Botham was employed as a youth worker at various Ministry of Defence . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Jurisdiction, Discrimination

Updated: 20 May 2022; Ref: scu.118485