Alfa Laval v Separator Spares [2012] EWCA Civ 1569, [2013] 1 WLR 1110

19 September 2012

Martin Howe QC and James St Ville acted for the successful appellants and John Baldwin QC acted for the respondents in Alfa Laval v. Separator Spares [2013] 1 WLR 1110 [2013] CP Rep 9 [2013] ILPr 10 [2013] ICR 455 [2013] FSR 22.

This appeal concerned the proper test for determining whether breach of confidence and copyright claims against a former employee are ‘matters relating to individual contracts of employment’ and within the jurisdictional protection provided by Articles 18(1) and 20 of the Brussels I Regulation.
The Court of Appeal held that the appropriate question for the court to ask was not whether the contract was ‘legally relevant’ to the claims, as held at first instance, but ‘Do the claims made against an employee relate to the individual’s contract of employment?’. The court observed, without proposing a separate test, that it might in many cases be helpful to ask whether the acts complained of by the employer, if true, would constitute breaches of contract by the employee. If so, the claims would be likely to ‘relate’ to the contract of employment. If not, not.

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