X v Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau  EWCA Civ 28 – Read judgment
The Court of Appeal has ruled that disabled people are not protected by domestic or European legislation against discrimination when they undertake voluntary work.
In this decision the specific question was whether volunteers at Citizens Advice Bureaus are protected from disability discrimination. X, the anonymised claimant, argued that CAB had terminated her role as a volunteer adviser because she had a disability. She claimed that:
Hall & Anor v Bull & Anor  EW Misc 2 (CC) (04 January 2011) – Read judgment
Judge Andrew Rutherford in the Bristol County Court has held that the devout Christian couple who ran their Cornish hotel according to their Christian principles directly discriminate against a homosexual couple in a civil partnership, when they refused accommodation to them on the basis that they only let double rooms to married couples.
The couple had planned for a short break in Cornwall and, after some internet research, chose the Chymorvah Private Hotel. They booked two nights over the telephone and arrived a few days later. They were met by the owner of the hotel and told in the public reception area in front of at least one other guest, the hotels policy with regard to double rooms. The online booking form stated
Lisboa v. Realpubs Ltd & Ors  UKEAT 0224_10_1101 (11 January 2011) – Read judgment
The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT)has ruled that a well-known gay pub’s strategy to encourage straight customers led to gay customers being treated less favourably, meaning that the a gay employee was forced to resign.
The policies included seating straight customers at the front of the pub where they would be most visible to passers by. The Claimant was an employee of the well-known London pub the Coleherne. The Coleherne was thought to be the city’s first ‘gay pub’ and had been operating as such for the past forty years, but in September 2008 reopened as a gastro-pub, The Pembroke.
Quila & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors  EWCA Civ 1482 – Read judgment
A key part of the government’s strategy to combat forced marriages, preventing people under the age of 21 from entering the country to marry, has been heavily criticised by the Court of Appeal.
The decision shows that even policies which pursue a legitimate and laudable aim must still be a proportionate to the problem they seek to address, or risk breaching the human rights of those affected. But it also highlights how difficult it is to set effective policies to combat hazardous arrangements which can involve rape, child abuse and domestic violence, and affect thousands of UK residents annually.
The Grand Chamber of European Court of Human Rights has ruled unanimously that abortion must be more accessible in Ireland for women whose lives are at risk. It rejected applications that abortion must be more widely available in other circumstances.
The ruling does not represent a significant departure from the current state of Irish law – in that it does not require the state to legalise abortion more than it technically already has done – but the probable changes in the law may result in a general softening towards abortion in general, as, in theory at least, it will be much easier for women in life threatening situations to obtain an abortion. Up until now, the law has made it practically impossible to do so.
Moreover, the recognition that abortion falls under article 8 (the right to private and family life) may also lead in future to more wide-ranging judgments, along the lines of Roe v Wade in the United States.
The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed an application brought against the police in Northern Ireland by a mother and her daughter who argued the police had failed to take sufficient action to protect them from loyalist riots on their route to primary school.
The court held that the police must be afforded a degree of discretion in taking operational decisions, and that in this case the police took all “reasonable steps” to protect the applicants.
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected the claim of a man detained by the police for 9 days under mental health law. Despite legislation deliberately making it difficult to sue authorities carrying out mental health functions, the court ruled that the law did not unduly restrict access to the courts.
Although Mr Seal ultimately lost, his claim – and in particular a strong dissenting judgment by Baroness Hale in the House of Lords – highlights the tricky line the state must tread in relation to people with mental health problems in relation to their access to justice.
The European Court of Human Rights has refused permission to appeal in a challenge to the ban on gay marriage in Austria. The effect of the decision is to make the court’s rejection of the same-sex couple’s claim final.
The decision means that the European Court of Human Rights will not force states to allow same-sex couples to marry, for now at least. This has a potential bearing on the UK, where a number of same-sex and heterosexual couples are currently bringing claims against UK laws which permit civil partnerships for same-sex couples but prevents them from marrying.
The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Commitee of the United Nations has narrowly voted to remove sexual orientation from a draft resolution against extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
In light of the guarantee of the right to life, liberty and security of person in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the resolution condemns all extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and demands that all States take effective action to prevent, combat, investigate and eliminate such executions.
Campaigners are seeking to challenge the rules against gay marriages and straight civil partnerships in the UK.
If they succeed then this would resolve the somewhat jumbled present position, where gay couples can form civil partnerships – which look almost exactly like marriages but aren’t – whereas straight couples are barred from doing the same.
As I posted here, the legalisation of gay marriage may be close at hand, and campaigners have chosen Reverend Sharon Ferguson and Franka Strietzel’s impending marriage application as one of eight test-cases to push through the final barrier for same-sex couples.
R (British Gurkha Welfare Society and ors) v Ministry of Defence  EWCA Civ 1098 – read judgment
The Court of Appeal has rejected a fresh attempt, based on Article 14 of the European Convention on Human rights (anti-discrimination), to obtain equal pension rights for Gurkhas who served in the British Army before 1997.
The long-running campaign for Gurkha rights has been highly publicised and successful, but it has not ensured equality of treatment in respect of pensions. The MoD continues to calculate accrued pension rights at a lower rates for Gurkhas than for other soldiers in respect of service performed before 1997, the date on which the majority of Gurkhas ceased to be based in Hong Kong and were instead moved to the UK.
Kevin O’Dowd v UK (application no. 7390/07)  ECHR 1324 (21 September 2010) – Read judgment
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a man’s pre-trial detention did not breach his right to liberty. Mr O’Dowd, who had a previous conviction for rape, was denied bail despite the maximum custody time limit having expired.
Kevin O’Dowd was charged with rape, false imprisonment and indecent assault in early December 2001. He had a prior conviction for rape which brought him within the provisions of Section 25 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (“the 1994 Act”) that bail should only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances justifying it.
J M v. The United Kingdom – 37060/06  ECHR 1361 – Read judgment
The European Court of Rights has declared that rules on child maintenance prior to introduction of the Civil Partnership Act discriminated against those in same-sex relationships.
The events happened nearly a decade ago and the law in relation to same-sex couples has greatly altered since, so it will be of limited relevance to those paying child benefit now. Of more interest is the reasoning of the majority in deciding the case under the right to peaceful enjoyment of property rather than the right to family life.
The case summary is based on the Court’s press release, and is followed by my comment.
This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.