Equality Law Briefing

The Equality Law Project supports front line organisations to understand and use the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 is the most fundamental overhaul ofprevious UK antidiscrimination and equality law.

For further information please contact Poornima Karunacadacharan, Equality Law Project officer on 0207 697 4092 or email


Equalities in Focus

The debate continues……

While many campaigned for the continued role of the Equality Act and the Public Sector Equality Duty last year, 2014 will see the continuation of the debate as to safeguards against abuse of state power and we should not lose sight of the European context as well.

We draw your attention to two recent consultations:

(1) In October 2013 the Ministry of Justice launched the Balance of Competences Fundamental Rights Review. Having closed on 13th January this year, the aim was to collect evidence about how the European Union acts on fundamental rights and how it affects the UK and to contribute to the UK Government’s wider review on what the EU does and how it affects the UK.

 (2) At the end of January 2014 The Council of Europe’s Committee of experts on the reform of the European Court of Human Rights opened a consultation inviting information, proposals and views on the reform of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.

These consultations follow the adoption of the Brighton Declaration in which the UK government took advantage of its chairmanship of the Council of Europe to push for reform of the European Court of Human Rights. The Government stressed its concern that the court was interfering unnecessarily in matters that had been satisfactorily decided by national courts. Unsurprising perhaps, considering the court’s rulings against the UK in relation to both voting rights for prisoners and the proposed deportation of Abu Qatada. Furthermore, the final report from the UK Commission on a Bill of Rights in September 2011 stressed the need for “urgent and fundamental reform to ensure that the European Court of Human Rights is called upon, as an international court, only to address a limited number of cases that raise serious questions affecting the interpretation or application of the Convention and serious issues of general importance. It is essential to ensure that the Member States and their national institutions – legislative, executive and judicial – assume their primary responsibility for securing the Convention rights and providing effective remedies for violations.”

To date the European Court of Human Rights has provided UK citizens a remedy for violations of their rights where UK courts have failed to do so. Examples include pension rights (Willis v the UK), the operation of life imprisonment (Winter & Others v the UK), storage of DNA on the police database after acquittal or release without charge (S and Marper v the UK) and prevention of discrimination within the armed forces due to sexual orientation (Smith and Grady v the UK) just to name a few. In essence then, we can afford to dilute the role of such external bodies only if we can feel confident that our rights are being respected within domestic legislation and the institutions which govern this.

Throughout the course of 2013 we have witnessed a direct threat to domestic equalities legislation and the duty on public bodies to ensure compliance with their equality duties. In light of the recent publication of the Government’s response to its  consultation on  ‘Judicial Review: Proposals for Further Reform’, which plans to further restrict access to justice, it is now more important than ever that we retain protection of our fundamental rights through the European courts.   In  2014 we must continue to watch the progress of these debates and ensure we are active participants in protecting our fundamental rights.


Laura Greason
ROTA Equality Law Project Volunteer

Case Law

This is a pick of the most recent judgments in relation to equalities:

Gillingham Football Club Ltd v McCammon [2013] UKEAT/0559/12

3 September 2013

Race - victimisation

Mr. McCammon, the Claimant was a professional footballer employed by Gillingham Football Club (GFC), the Respondent.  Following an incident where there was a difference in treatment between himself and two other players who were black or of mixed origin, and a white player, the Claimant went in to the manager’s office and made a complaint in general terms to the manager and assistant manager that they were racist.

The Claimant was dismissed for acting in a violent, aggressive and threatening manner towards the team manager and because, in the terms set out in the dismissal letter, “you made very serious accusations of racism against both the team manager and the assistant manager”.  The Claimant brought proceedings before the Employment Tribunal alleging victimisation under s.27 of the Equality Act 2010.  This is because the Claimant complained about unfavourable treatment on the grounds of race and as a result faced a detriment.  The Respondent defended the victimisation claim on the basis that the reason for dismissal was not because the Claimant had complained of racism but due to the aggressive and abusive words and conduct that accompanied the complaint.

The Tribunal concluded that because the Respondent stated in the dismissal letter that a principal reason for the dismissal was that he had made the allegation, and the dismissal letter had not qualified in any way that the Claimant had made the accusation in bad faith, the dismissal was an act of victimisation.  The Respondent appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).  The EAT upheld the decision of the Employment Tribunal and dismissed the appeal.

Gillingham Football Club Ltd v McCammon [2013] UKEAT/0559/12, Equality Law Reports, Michael Rubenstein Publishing Ltd, [2014] EqLR 4-12.


Bracking v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] EWCA Civ 1345

6 November 2013

Disability - Public Sector Equality Duty

In December 2012, following a consultation, the Minister for Disabled People announced a decision that the Independent Living Fund (ILF) would close in 2015 and that from that point the local authorities, in line with their statutory duties, will have sole responsibility for meeting the eligible care needs of present ILF users.  This decision would have had a grave impact on the ability of ILF users to lead independent lives.

Stuart Bracking and four other severely disabled people who used the ILF made an application for judicial review on the grounds that the equality impact assessment (EIA) presented to the Minister had provided an inadequate base from which she could discharge the PSED.  Their application was rejected in the Administrative Court.

They (the Appellants) then appealed to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that:

  1. The Minister had inadequate information from her officials as to the true impact of the proposals on persons such as the Appellants;
  2. There was not sufficient done to ensure that the potential risk to such persons were integral to the formulation of the policy;
  3.  and that there was not a conscious directing of the mind to the statutory criteria over and above a merely general regard to equality issues.

The Court of Appeal  held:

  1. Considerations of equality of opportunity (where they arise) must be placed at the centre of formulation of policy by all public authorities, side by side with all other pressing circumstances of whatever magnitude.  For this reason advanced consideration must be given to the requirements of the PSED and they must form an integral part of the mechanisms of government.  If a decision is reached without due regard to the PSED then it is an unlawful decision.


  1. There was a failure to have “due regard” to the specific requirements of the Act in reaching the decision that is under attack.  Beyond one reference in the EIA to the Equality Act and one short passage in the witness evidence, there was nothing to demonstrate a focus on the requirements of the PSED.  The witness statement referred to states:

“However, in order to comply with our public sector equality duty any decision you take must be informed by an Equality Impact Assessment.  To ensure we do not increase the likelihood of a successful claim it is important that you consider the Equality Impact Assessment and the Impact Assessment before making a decision on the future of the ILF.”

This was not considered to be sufficient evidence of the Minister having had “due regard”

  1. There was just sufficient evidence to draw the inference that the Minister had properly appreciated the full impact of the decision on those most adversely affected.  However, there was no material from which one could infer that the Minister had properly appreciated and addressed the full scope and import of the matters, which she was obliged to consider pursuant to the PSED.  A vague awareness by the Minister that she owed legal duties to the disabled did not suffice; nor was it enough for her officials simply to have alerted her to the obligation to have regard to the matters identified in the EIA and the IA. They had not identified her legal obligations.  It was far from obvious that she would have had a clear understanding of her legal duties under the Equality Act.

Bracking v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] EWCA Civ 1345, Equality Law Reports, Michael Rubenstein Publishing Ltd, [2014] EqLR 60-75.

Best Practice Case Study of the month


Holding Public Bodies to Account in Decision Making*

A Borough Council announced a change in their funding stream from race equality to community cohesion. This would have meant the cessation of a complainant aid and immigration service. The Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council pointed out to the Council the issues their decision raised in respect of the Council’s duty to comply with the PSED. This resulted in mitigation of an increased offer of grant to resource both community cohesion activity and the complainant aid and immigration service.

An application for judicial review was made, alleging breach of the PSED when a primary care trust withdrew transport to access tertiary care. The trust quickly responded stating that the withdrawal of the service was an error, and it was promptly reinstated without the need for a full hearing.


* Source: Case studies: Submission to the Review of the Public Sector Equality Duty, Call for Evidence [April 2013]: Discrimination Law Association

This case study is part of a resource developed in partnership with the Race Equality Foundation (REF) and collated by Leander Neckles, Equanomics UK.

News and events

 'Judicial Review: Proposals for Further Reform' Consultation

See here for ‘Judicial Review: Proposals for Further Reform’. 

See here for ROTA's response to MoJ's consultation of the Judicial Review.

See here for Government response to the consultation ‘Judicial review: proposals for further reform’

Shaping Mental Health Services for BME&R People:
Meeting the Public Sector Equality Duty

Pan-London Event! 31st March 2014

An opportunity for voluntary and community sector organisations to engage with public authorities on the Public Sector Equality Duty and shape mental health services for BME&R people.

Click here for details

Free Equality Act Training: 10th & 17th March 2014

Calling BME&R mental health service users and support organisations in Haringey, Enfield, and Barnet

Click here for details.

Free Equality Act Training: 5th & 12th March 2014

Calling BME&R mental health service users and support organisations in Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth & Westminster

Click here for details.




Race on the Agenda

c/o Resource for London
356 Holloway Road
London, N7 6PA
United Kingdom


Patron: Lord Victor Adebowale CBE
Patron: Dr Richard Stone

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