FBU success in defending safe duty systems: High Court declares for the Fire Brigades Union

Circular: 2018HOC0291AD

Dear Brother / Sister


The Union has won a vital and tremendous success today. The Honourable Mr Justice Kerr handed down a judgment in a case brought by the Fire Brigades Union which declared that the Close Proximity Crewing duty-system requiring firefighters to work a continuous 96 hours on duty at a fire station was unlawful and declared that its operation must be brought to an end.

Similar duty systems are in place at a handful of stations in some other fire and rescue services. The case was brought in relation to South Yorkshire but there are “knock-on” implications arising from the judgment and the Union will be taking the necessary steps on that matter in due course.

The judicial review was brought as a result of the Union being frustrated that the fire authority and its officers were flouting the law by ignoring the employment tribunal decision.  The Union sought legal advice from lead employment lawyers Thompsons to take steps to seek a judicial review. The case was heard on 26 April 2018 and the Union was represented by Mr Oliver Segal QC.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service/Authority sought leave to appeal and this was refused by the High Court. We await to see if the FRA makes a plea to the Court of Appeal to allow them to do so. The fire and rescue authority and SYFRS have already wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on this case - despite the fact it had recognised and unambiguously declared from the very beginning that it was introducing the duty system knowing full well that it did not comply with the Working Time Regulations.

A summary of the judgment, based on a briefing provided by Thompsons, which brings attention to the most salient points is provided below. The paragraph numbers in parentheses are reference to the numbered paragraphs in the judgment. A copy of the judgment itself can be viewed at:


Best wishes.

Yours fraternally

Assistant General Secretary


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