Commentary

(c) Illegality in standard employment law cases

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| Commentary

(c) Illegality in standard employment law cases

| Commentary

(c)     Illegality in standard employment law cases

(i)     Statutory illegality

It is convenient to deal first with the atypical form of illegality here, statutory illegality, in its particular context of immigration-related cases. It was seen at para [65] above that in the leading case of Okedina v Chikale [2019] EWCA Civ 1393, [2019] IRLR 905 the Court of Appeal set out the basic principle here in the following terms:

''The underlying principle is straightforward: if the legislation itself has provided that the contract is unenforceable, in full or in the relevant respect, the court is bound to respect that provision. That being the rationale, the knowledge or culpability of the party who is prevented from recovering is irrelevant: it is a simple matter of obeying the statute.''

In the case itself, the claimant was brought to this country from Malawi to perform domestic work for the husband and wife employers, fellow Malawians. She had a six-month visa initially, but when this ran out the employers told her that the necessary steps had been taken to extend this. They kept her passport. They did in fact apply (forging her signature) but this was rejected. The claimant was not told. She worked long hours for little pay; when she asked for more she was summarily dismissed and ejected from the house. When she brought proceedings under a range of headings the employers pleaded illegality through her breaches of immigration law, in particular

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