Ryanair: New European Court of Justice Judgement on disputes related to employment contracts

On 20 September 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled on two Joined Cases related to Ryanair and Crewlink air crew members’ employment contracts. Taking the view that Crewlink and Ryanair had to comply with and apply the provisions of Belgian law, related to employment contracts, six employees brought proceedings before the Belgian courts in 2011.

The cour du travail de Mons (Mons Higher Labour Court, Belgium), decided to ask the Court of Justice how to interpret, in the EU Regulation on jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters, the concept of “place where the employee habitually carries out his work” and of “home base” in the context of the air navigation sector.

The Court stated that in disputes relating to their employment contracts, air crew members have the option of bringing proceedings before the courts of the place where they perform the essential part of their duties vis-à-vis their employer and that the national court must determine that place and the employee’s “home base”.

As regards the determination of the concept of “place where the employee habitually carries out his work”, the Court refers to its settled case-law. In particular, such concept covers the place where, or from which, the employee in fact performs the essential part of his duties vis-à-vis his employer. To determine specifically that place, the national court must refer to a set of indicia such as the place where the aircraft aboard which the work is habitually performed is stationed, the place from which the employee carries out his transport-related tasks, the place where he returns after his tasks, receives instructions concerning his tasks, organises his work, and the place where his work tools are to be found.

The concept of “home base” instead, amounts to a significant indicator to determine, the place from which the employee habitually carries out his work.


Davide Scavuzzo