Murray v Foyle Meats Ltd

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Murray v Foyle Meats Ltd
CourtHouse of Lords
Citation(s)[1999] UKHL 30, [1999] ICR 827

Murray v Foyle Meats Ltd [1999] UKHL 30 is a UK labour law case, concerning redundancy, specifically the interpretation of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Employment Rights Act 1996 United Kingdom Law

The Employment Rights Act 1996 is a United Kingdom Act of Parliament passed by the Conservative government to codify existing law on individual rights in UK labour law.



Foyle Meats Ltd's slaughtering business was declining. One production line in the slaughter hall was eliminated and 35 meat plant operatives were made redundant from the slaughter hall. The employees all had flexibility clauses and they sometimes rotated departments to the boning or loading hall, etc. The dismissed employees claimed they were not redundant because the employer still needed workers under the same terms, just in different departments.


Lord Irvine LC held that the operatives were redundant and that "the language of the [Employment Rights Act 1996 section 139(1)(b)] is in my view simplicity itself". He referred to Nelson v BBC [1] which had wrongly propagated the "contract test" view, which was wrong. There was a simple causation test to apply, based on the word "attributable" in the statute. Did diminishing demand for labour cause the dismissal?


  1. [1977] ICR 649, Megaw LJ, Roskill LJ and Browne LJ

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