Employment Cases Update

British Airways Plc v British Airline Pilots’ Association [2019] EWCA Civ 1663

Date published: 17/10/2019

Appeal against the High Court’s refusal to grant an interim injunction preventing the Respondent trade union from calling on its members to take part in industrial action in furtherance of a trade dispute following a ballot of its members, who are pilots employed by the Applicant. Appeal dismissed.

The Respondent sent a notice of the ballot and a copy of the ballot paper ("the Notice") to the Applicant, indicating an intention to hold a ballot for industrial action. The ballot took place and supported industrial action. The Applicant's application to the High Court for an injunction was refused, including a rejection of the argument that the Notice did not comply with the obligation to give a list of the "categories of employees" and the number of employees in each of the categories entitled to vote. The Applicant contended that the High Court misdirected itself in relation to the meaning and effect of the relevant legislation when it held that it was not the primary purpose or even a purpose of the statutory provision as to notification requirements, in section 226A Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 ("TULR(C)A"), to assist the employer to plan how to mitigate the effects of the industrial action. The central question on this appeal was whether it was more likely than not that the Respondent would succeed in establishing a trade dispute defence at a full trial on the basis that it complied with the relevant balloting rules and, in particular, the requirement to describe the "categories" of employees in section 226A(2A)(a) TULR(C)A.

The Court of Appeal held that the High Court had correctly concluded that the particular categorisation adopted by the Respondent in the Notice was in accordance with the language of section 226A TULR(C)A. While more information could have been provided and would have helped the Applicant, the question was not whether the categories could have been provided with greater specificity but, rather, whether what was provided was sufficient to meet the statutory requirements, and the Court was satisfied that it was.

Read the full text of the judgment on BAILII or download the file by clicking the link below.