The City Law School’s Professor of Commercial and Maritime Law appears before a joint session of the Transport Select Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee.
On 24th March 2022, The City Law School’s Professor Jason Chuah gave oral evidence to the UK Parliament's Transport Select Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee regarding the legalities around the sacking of 800 maritime workers by P&O Ferries.
The Select Committees were interested to find out whether UK labour laws applied to protect the seafarers employed by P&O Ferries, despite the fact that the ships were flagged outside the UK and the contracts of employment were subject to Jersey law.
Professor Chuah testified that P&O was subject to employment legislation and that in large- scale redundancies due notice to the different states where the ships were registered (namely Cyprus, Bermuda and the Bahamas) should have been given.
The Select Committees were concerned if such a failure was punishable under UK law and Professor Chuah stressed that the law on potential sanctions or penalties is unclear; legislation may be required in order to address this gap.
He also pointed out that under the old law, the employer would have been required to notify the Secretary of State, but that was removed by EU legislation, the Seafarers Directive 2015. He noted that with Brexit, it would be possible for the UK to reinstate the former requirement.
Professor Chuah was also asked whether UK minimum wage legislation applied to ferry workers.
He stated that the law was amended in 2020 to pay the minimum wage to seafarers, regardless of their or their employer’s nationality, who are working or ordinarily work in UK territorial waters or the UK sector of the continental shelf.