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EAT appeal successful against dismissal of Claimants’ claims that they were entitled to discounted travel after being made redundant

In Adefunke Adekoya & Others v Heathrow Express Operating Company Ltd, claimants challenged the termination of their discounted leisure rail travel benefit after redundancy. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) allowed their appeal, finding their contracts included this right. The matter was remitted to consider the respondent’s remaining defenses.

In Adefunke Adekoya & Others v Heathrow Express Operating Company Ltd the Claimants, while employed by the Respondent, all received a benefit of discounted leisure rail travel. In 2020 they were all made redundant after more than five years’ service. They all brought breach of contract claims in the ET asserting that, in these circumstances, they had the contractual right to continued lifelong enjoyment of the travel benefit. The Respondent had three lines of defence. The first was that the claimants no longer had the continued right to the benefit, because it had been provided by a third party, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) (formerly ATOC) pursuant to an agreement with respondent, and, in May 2019 RDG had given the Respondent notice that the provision of the benefit to those who were employed after 1996 (which included all the Claimants) post termination in certain circumstances would stop. At a preliminary hearing the tribunal upheld that line of defence. The Claimants appealed.

The EAT allowed the appeal. The ET found that the Claimants’ contracts incorporated the right to retain the benefit if made redundant after five years or more service. However, it went on to find that the 2019 notice from ATOC/RDG had the effect of depriving the Claimants of their rights to it as against the Respondent. It erred in doing so. There was no proper basis for finding that the agreement between the Respondent and RDG was incorporated into the Claimants’ contracts, nor otherwise that the 2019 notice from ATOC (not given to the Claimants at the time) had that effect upon their rights as against the Respondent. The fact that they knew that the benefit was furnished by ATOC was not sufficient. The matter was remitted to the ET to consider the Respondent’s two other lines of defence.

Source: Lexology

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