Equality Act 2010


Whistleblowing judges: protected by human rights?

18 October 2019 by

Gilham (Appellant) v Ministry of Justice (Respondent) [2019] UKSC 44 – read judgment

The UK Supreme Court has unanimously granted an appeal by a district judge against the Court of Appeal’s decision that she did not qualify as a “worker” under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (the “1996 Act”), and therefore could not benefit from the whistleblowing protections it conferred.

In reaching its judgment, the Court held that the failure to extend those whistleblowing protections to judges amounted to a violation of the appellant’s right under Article 14 ECHR not to be discriminated against in her enjoyment of the Convention rights (in this case, her right to freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR).


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Equality Act in force today, but ‘socialism’ clause looks doomed

1 October 2010 by

Most of the Equality Act 2010 comes into force today. But whilst 90% of its provisions are now operating, the Act has been controversial and some key aspects may never see the light of day.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have published a fully featured online guide to the Act, a videoguidance on good practice and an Equality Act starter kit. Afua Hirsch in the Guardian summarises the main provisions here, as does the BBC and the Human Rights in Ireland Blog. The Law Society has produced a practice note for solicitors.

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Goodbye to the public sector equality duty?

26 August 2010 by

The government is moving away from the wide-ranging public sector equality duty which was due to come into force in April 2011.

The Equalities Office has announced a consultation on the public sector equality duty imposed by the Equality Act 2010. Reading the consultation document, it is clear that the government intends to delegate the equalities duty to the general public, rather than imposing top-down standards from Whitehall:

We do not intend to prescribe how public bodies go about their business, but we will ensure that we put in place the right framework which empowers citizens to scrutinise the data and evidence on how their public services perform.

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Major new equality laws under threat from new government

18 June 2010 by

The Equality Act 2010 may be a quiet addition to the Coalition Government’s repealing agenda as the Government Equality Office (GEO) withdraws the timetable for its implementation.

According to Out-law.com, a spokesperson from the GEO said “An announcement on scheduling for implementation of the Equality Act will be made in due course” and also confirmed that the new Government is not bound by the timetable set by its predecessor.

The Equality Act 2010 was passed into law on in the dying days of the New Labour government despite opposition of from the Pope, who complained that it would run contrary to “natural law” due to its likely effect on Catholic adoption agencies. The Conservatives may have more luck, however, in thwarting the Act’s implementation and in particular three aspects of it which they are opposed to. Some of the main provisions were supposed to come into force in October, but this now appears to have been put on hold. The original timetable can be accessed here.

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Major new Equality Act becomes law despite opposition from Pope

12 April 2010 by

The Equality Act 2010 received royal assent on 8 April 2010. The Act aims to consolidate what until now has been a messy jigsaw of 116 pieces of legislation, and further harmonise UK law with the four key EU Equal Treatment Directives.

The Bill passed despite the unusual opposition from the Pope, who complained in February that it would run contrary to “natural law”. His comments were most likely directed at the effect of the new legislation on Catholic adoption agencies, making it more difficult for them to turn down gay couples. We previously posted on this topic in relation to the Catholic Care case, which resulted in a victory for a catholic adoption agency.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has welcomed the passing of the Bill, points out some of the key features:

  • Making the law easier to understand and implement by simplifying 116 pieces of equality legislation into a single Act for individuals, public authorities and private organisations.
  • Giving people the right not to be treated less favourably by public authorities because of their age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or transgender status; as well as their disability, gender, or race which were already covered.
  • Extending anti-age discrimination rules to include goods, facilities and services, thereby stopping people being unfairly refused insurance or medical treatments based on what age they are, for example.

The key sections of the Act will begin to come into force in October 2010 and will continue to do so until 2012.

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Are civil partnerships compatible with human rights law?

17 March 2010 by

Baroness Deech, the Chair of the Bar Standards Board, has given the second lecture in her series on family law at Gresham College. In this lecture she questions whether the current law of marriage is compatible with human rights law. In particular, homosexual couples cannot legally marry, and hetrosexual couples are disbarred from entering civil partnerships. She said:

“Since [the] acceptance and recognition [of gay rights] has grown, advanced by the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Bill 2010. Gay couples may adopt children (Adoption and Children Act 2002); they have access to fertility services and full parentage of donor conceived children (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008). Same sex childless couples are deemed to be a “family” for the purpose of succeeding a deceased partner to a tenancy (Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association [1998] Ch.304). This trend culminated in the legislative establishment of civil partnerships in the Civil Partnership Act 2004, creating a union almost identical to, but not marriage.”

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