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Supreme Court of Denmark

No duty to automatically adjust seafarers' net salary 

Case no. 251/2015

Judgment delivered on 23 November 2016

The trade union for seafarers 'Søfartens Ledere' acting for A and B
The Danish Shipowners' Association acting for DFDS A/S

The case was heard with Supreme Court case no. 15/2016.

The case concerned whether A and B, who were paid a tax-free net salary in accordance with the Seafarer Taxation Act, were entitled to an automatic pay increase following the general tax cuts introduced in 2009 with the Danish Government's Spring Package 2.0

According to the Danish Seafarer Taxation Act, seafarers on board Danish ships receive a tax-free net salary on certain conditions. A and B were of the opinion that their net salary should be increased in step with general tax cuts in society. They argued that this followed from their employment contracts as interpreted according to previous collective agreements, the Seafarer Taxation Act and the EU's state aid rules.

The High Court had stated, among other things, that there was no implied contractual obligation for DFDS to automatically adjustment seafarers' net salary as a result of changes in the personal taxation rules. Such automatic adjustment could also not be inferred from the Seafarer Taxation Act or the EU's state aid rules. Accordingly, the High Court had found in favour of DFDS.

The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the High Court.

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