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Judgment handed down in Walker v Wallem Shipmanagment LTD

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (Mr Justice Kerr sitting with members) today handed down judgment in the case of Walker v Wallem Shipmanagement Limited, an important case on territorial jurisdiction for discrimination claims by seafarers.

Wallem provided employment services to clients employing seafarers on foreign registered ships. Ms Walker was a cadet who applied in the United Kingdom through Wallem for work on these ships.

Wallem told her that it would not offer her a role as it recruited only men, not women. It admitted in the proceedings that this was an act of sex discrimination and the Employment Tribunal made further findings of sex discrimination/victimisation. However, the Tribunal found that it did not have territorial jurisdiction to hear the claims.

The EAT dismissed the appeal “with regret”, finding that the combined effect of section 81 of the Equality Act 2010 and regulation 4 of the Equality Act (Work on Ships and Hovercraft) Regulations 2011 was that discrimination against individuals applying to serve on foreign flagged ships was permitted, even when the recruitment process took place in the UK.

As Ms Walker had no remedy against Wallem (although she would against the UK itself), the EAT stated that the Secretary of State may well consider it wise to revisit the scope of the 2011 Regulations.

David Reade Q.C., instructed by Mayer Brown, appeared for Wallem Shipmanagement.

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