Abstract: The ECJ’s judgment in joined cases Ryanair and Crewlink concerns the interpretation of the connecting factor of the place where the employee habitually carries out his work (the ‘habitual workplace’), which is decisive in determining jurisdiction over employment contracts under Article 19 of the Brussels I Regulation (now Article 21 of the Brussels I Recast Regulation). This issue arose in the course of proceedings commenced by aircrew. The referring court essentially asked whether the habitual workplace of aircrew can be equated to their ‘home base’. The notion of home base is objectively defined in a regulation concerning the harmonization of administrative proceedings in the aviation sector.
The ECJ points out that habitual workplace and home base cannot be equated. Then, the ECJ importantly adds that the home base of aircrew is a significant factor in determining the habitual workplace. Only if circumstantial elements suggest that the habitual workplace is located elsewhere than the home base, the latter can be disregarded.
Moreover, the ECJ’s interpretation of the notion of habitual workplace is relevant to the collision rules of the Rome Convention and the Rome I Regulation. Pursuant to said collision rules, the law of the country in which the habitual workplace is situated governs the employment contract if no choice of law is made by parties. Even if such choice has been made, that law acts as a corrective mechanism.
In conclusion, the annotated judgment provides national courts with an important tool to tackle social dumping in the aviation sector. National courts, from now on, can pierce employers’ strategies which aim to deprive aircrew of the rights conferred to them by the labour law of the Member State in which their habitual workplace is located.European Review of Private Law