Applicable law—which system of law applies to the contract or employment relationship
Produced in partnership with Edward Kemp of Littleton Chambers

The following Employment practice note produced in partnership with Edward Kemp of Littleton Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Applicable law—which system of law applies to the contract or employment relationship
  • Initial considerations
  • Brexit impact
  • Overview of Rome Convention and Rome I
  • Rome I—generally
  • Evidence and procedure
  • Universal application
  • Consistency with Brussels I (now BrusseIs I (recast)) and Rome II
  • Overriding principle
  • Parties fail to choose applicable law
  • More...

Applicable law—which system of law applies to the contract or employment relationship

This Practice Note examines how to determine which system of law is applicable to a contract of employment or employment relationship. It has been updated to take account of the impact of Brexit and the end of the implementation period (IP) for the Withdrawal Agreement on IP completion day (11 pm on 31 December 2020) on this area of law. For further details, see: Brexit impact, below.

Initial considerations

Where a dispute or claim arises in respect of an employee who works wholly or partly abroad and/or has a foreign employer, two questions will need to be determined:

  1. what are the employee’s rights?

  2. where should any litigation that may ultimately arise be adjudicated?

In determining these questions, three main issues arise:

  1. applicable law, ie which system of law is applicable to the contract of employment under consideration?

  2. international jurisdiction, ie whose courts and/or tribunals should decide the case?

  3. the territorial scope of relevant applicable or mandatory law, ie how the courts and employment tribunals decide what statutory rights (if any) the employee has, both in terms of:

    1. purely domestic law rights, and

    2. rights derived from EU law

This Practice Note deals with the first question, ie which system of law is applicable to the contract of employment or employment relationship under consideration.

For information:

  1. on jurisdiction, see Practice

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