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Sub practice
Sub practice

Global Employment Disputes

We provide strategic input and direction on high-risk and sensitive contentious work. Our team has vast experience of advising clients on contentious issues, assisting clients before all national courts (as well as the European Court of Justice) and employment tribunals in the full range of individual and collective labour conflicts.

In an effort to reduce the financial burden of litigious action, we have noticed a trend in clients opting for alternative methods of dispute resolution and have recently worked on both tribunal-led and independent mediations.

We consider this standalone expertise to be a real strength of our practice where we add tangible value to clients, working with them to limit reputational and financial damage.

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News & insights

Publications: 25 FEBRUARY 2020

A misprediction is not a mistake: settlement not set aside despite change in law

A change in the law made shortly after a compromise agreement was entered into did not give rise to a common mistake of law capable of setting aside the agreement.  The High Court held that while the doctrine of mistake operates in the context of compromise agreements, there was no “common assumption” between the parties as to the relevant law in this case and therefore no mistake.  The court observed that “a mistake will more likely arise where a well-established and unquestioned rule of law is dramatically overturned than where a single decision on a new and difficult point is overruled”.  The decision highlights the reluctance of the English courts to disturb already concluded settlements on the basis of a future revision of the law: Jeremy Philip Elston v (1) Lawrence King (2) Sue Roscoe (trustees in bankruptcy of Jeremy Philip Elston) [2020] EWHC 55 (Ch).

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Publications: 25 FEBRUARY 2020

Legal advice privilege subject to “dominant purpose” test – how to deal with multi-party email communications

The dominant purpose of a communication must be to obtain, or give, legal advice for legal advice privilege to apply.  The Court of Appeal considers how, in the light of this, to analyse privilege and internal multi-party email communications between in-house lawyers and non-lawyer employees. Three Rivers No. 5 is criticised but acknowledged to be binding: The Civil Aviation Authority v Jet2.Com Ltd, R. (on the Application of) [2020] EWCA Civ 35.

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Publications: 25 FEBRUARY 2020

Time limits for damages claims based on public law breaches during rail franchise procurement

This case highlights the very different, and often very strict, time limits that apply in different private law and public law claims.  Rejecting the Secretary of State’s attempt to strike out part of the claims against it, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the six-year time limit for damages claims applies to a procurement conducted outside the Public Contracts (and similar) Regulations.  However, the three- month judicial review time limit may apply to other private law claims in this context.  The decision highlights the importance of considering time limits when challenging, or defending, public body decision-making.  Where the public law act engages private law rights, damages and other remedies may still be available where the time limits for judicial review have passed – provided that judicial review is not being sought by the back door: Secretary of State for Transport v Arriva Rail East Ltd & ors [2019] EWCA Civ 2259.

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Publications: 25 JUNE 2019

Modern slavery: Directors can be personally liable for employee exploitation

The High Court has held a company’s officers personally, jointly and severally liable to its employees as victims of modern slavery. The officers had deliberately and systematically utilised coercive, threatening and punitive financial measures to exploit the company’s employees and force them to live and work in abysmal conditions. This breached the officers’ duties to act in the company’s best interests and induced it to breach its contractual and statutory obligations to the claimant employees. 

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Supporting you on cross-border issues

With over 180 lawyers in 26 countries across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., Allen & Overy’s global Employment & Benefits group is one of the best-resourced global practices in its field. 

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Recent experience

Allianz Deutschland AG

Allianz Deutschland AG

Advising Allianz Deutschland AG in legal proceedings before the German Federal Labour Court (“Bundesarbeitsgericht”) regarding the interpretation of the provisions in the blanket collective agreement for the German insurance industry. Contrary to the ruling of the court of lower instance (Regional Labour Court (“Landesarbeitsgericht”) of Hamburg), the Federal Labour Court ruled in favour of Allianz Deutschland AG and declared the practice for calculating holiday allowances to be correct.
Belgian litigation

Belgian litigation

Assisting a leading manufacturer in relation to Belgian litigation (including injunction proceedings) with one of the senior executives following a constructive dismissal claim made by his manager.
BSN Medical

BSN Medical

Advising BSN Medical, an Italian medical devices company, as defendant, on a dispute before the Employment Court of Monza in connection with the dismissal of a former manager. The court ruled in favour of our client and rejected the claimant’s allegations and requests in full, ordering him to pay our client’s, as well as his own legal expenses.
Commerzbank

Commerzbank

Representing Commerzbank in high-profile litigation, reaching the German Federal Labour Court, against a significant number of employees regarding bonus payments.
Deutsche Lufthansa

Deutsche Lufthansa

Assisting Deutsche Lufthansa during various collective bargaining conflicts with the pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (“VC”) and the flight attendants’ union Unabhängige Flugbegleiter Organisation. This included successful representation before the Hessian Labour Court in September 2015 to obtain an injunction against VC and representation before the Federal Constitutional Court and the Hessian Constitutional Court regarding the subsequent constitutional complaint.
Foreign Exchange

Foreign Exchange

Advising a number of major financial institutions in relation to the Foreign Exchange scandal and related employment proceedings.
Pure Storage

Pure Storage

Advising Pure Storage, an enterprise storage company, on the enforceability of restrictive covenants in an executive’s employment contract with his former employer in England and representing the executive in a successful jurisdictional challenge relating to his stock plan entitlement under the former employer’s plan.
Social Security surcharges

Social Security surcharges

Advising a multinational industrial company in proceedings before the Spanish Supreme Court relating to Social Security surcharges.
UK hedge fund

UK hedge fund

Advising a leading UK hedge fund following the theft of valuable trading algorithms by an employee who fled to Hong Kong. Achieved injunctions and freezing orders in the UK and Hong Kong; secured extradition of the employee to the UK; criminal conviction for fraud; and an account of profits order.