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Ryanair cabin crew not entitled to bring a claim in the UK tribunal

The cabin crew members “home base” was designated as Charleroi airport near Brussels. They routinely began and ended their working day at Charleroi, they received their instructions there, and they were required to live within an hour of the airport.

However, their contracts of employment contained a choice of forum clause which said claims could be dealt with in the Irish courts. The matter was referred to the European Court of Justice, which held that their contractual clause was overridden by the Brussels Regulation.

The Advocate General opined that, since the cabin crew performed their work in multiple member states, it was not possible to identify a single place where the obligations were carried out. However, considering relevant case law under the Brussels Regulation, and the Rome I Regulation on choice of law, it was also possible for the national court to identify the "place from which" they carried out their obligations. The factual findings pointed unequivocally to the Belgian courts having jurisdiction, since Charleroi airport was the place from which they were principally carrying out their obligations. In the Advocate General's view, the nationality of the aircraft on which the claimants worked was irrelevant for the purposes of determining the place where they habitually carried out their work, and the employees' "home base" was only of indirect relevance to the question of jurisdiction.

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