The claimants in Hottak v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs were Afghan nationals who served as interpreters with British Forces in Afghanistan. A scheme provided financial benefits and relocation opportunities to Afghan nationals who worked for the British Government in Afghanistan. There was a different and, the claimants argued, more generous scheme for members of staff who had been employed locally. They argued that the difference in treatment was discriminatory on grounds of race and that they should be allowed to bring claims in the UK.
The High Court rejected this. The Equality Act does not say anything about territorial jurisdiction but the same principles as apply to unfair dismissal cases should also be used in discrimination cases. The test is that set out by the Supreme Court in Ravat v Halliburton Manufacturing and Services Ltd: an individual can bring a claim here if their employment has a stronger connection with GB than with the foreign country where they are working. Here, the claimants were not expatriate or peripatetic workers and had no physical contact or connection with Great Britain. Their only UK link was the identity of their employer.
Although the Court accepted that the territorial scope of the discrimination provisions ought to be the same as unfair dismissal legislation, somewhat surprisingly (given the case law authority) it did so "with some hesitation", commenting that there could be an argument for a narrower reach in circumstances where the application of UK discrimination laws to the employment of overseas employees could conflict with local laws and customs.