Administrative Court; Foster J,  EWHC 15 (Admin), 6 January 2022
The claimant challenged the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 (as amended) on the basis that they breached Article 14 ECHR read with A2P1 by restricting eligibility for student finance to individuals to would-be higher education students who were “settled in the United Kingdom” for immigration purposes on the first day of the first academic year of their course. The claimant, whose academic course started on 1 September 2020, had made an application for settled status. He had, in respect of previous applications, used the Home Office Super Priority visa application service which granted visas within 24 hours on payment of a fee, the normal turnaround offered by the Home Office for disposal of an Indefinite Leave To Remain (“ILR”) Visa application being six months. The Super Priority scheme, and a related Priority scheme, were withdrawn by the Home Office with only a few days’ notice on 31 March 2020, unknown to the Claimant. He became eligible to apply for ILR on 14 April and did so on 17 May 2020, a day before his previous visa was due to expire. He applied for student finance on 24 August 2020. He was granted ILR on 23 November 2020 but was advised by letter of 18 December 2020 that he was ineligible for student finance. After having unsuccessfully appealed this decision he sought judicial review. Foster J ruled that the discrimination in issue fell within A2P1, that the claimant was entitled to rely on the broad approach to “status” approved by the Supreme Court in R (SC) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKSC 26,  3 WLR 428 (see previous post), and that the discrimination was unjustified and unlawful.
Administrative Court; Bourne J,  EWHC 3415 (Admin), 16 December 2021
The claimants relied, inter alia, on Articles 14 and 8 in challenging decisions to deny them citizenship. Both were wrongfully prevented from entering the UK at a time when they had or were entitled to indefinite leave to remain in the UK (“ILR”), subsequently applied under the Windrush Scheme and were granted ILR before applying for British citizenship. These applications were denied on the basis that they failed to satisfy Schedule 1 para 1(2)(a) of the British Nationality Act 1981, which requires that a citizenship applicant has been physically present in the UK five years prior to the application (“the 5 year rule”). The question for the Court was whether the 5 year rule could be challenged by reason of the HRA. Bourne J ruled that the absence of discretion or flexibility within the five year rule amounted to Thlimmenos discrimination against the claimants contrary to Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8, but that a Convention compatible reading was possible under section 3 HRA by permitting the defendant to deem that an individual had complied with the 5 year rule..
Administrative Court: Heather Williams J,  EWHC 3389 (Admin), 15 December 2021
This was a challenge to a decision to close legacy public service pension schemes, including police schemes, and to move all active members to reformed pension schemes. The High Court ruled that the decision was unlawful by reason of failures in the consultation process. In addition, and of more relevance to this blog, she ruled that the decision had been taken in breach of the PSED (s149 Equality Act 2010) because the decision was reached prior to the decision-maker having been provided with a draft of the relevant equality impact assessment or a summary of indirect sex discrimination and other equality-related concerns raised by consultees. As Williams J put it at §171: “the PSED is placed on the Minister personally and what matters is what he or she took into account and knew, not what his officials read or summarised or discussed. As I have indicated when setting out the legal principles, the duty must be fulfilled at a time when a particular policy is under consideration, rather than after it has been adopted. Accordingly, there was a breach of the PSED in this regard”.
Claimant: Andrew Sharland QC and Stephen Kosmin, instructed by Mariel Irvine Solicitors
Defendant and Interested Party: Catherine Callaghan QC , Raymond Hill and Imogen Proud, instructed by Government Legal Department
EAT: Jason Coppel QC, UKEAT/0260/20/AT, 9 December 2021
This is an interesting case in which the EAT rejected an appeal from a finding that the claimant had not been discriminated against because of something arising in consequence of her disability (s15 EqA), or denied reasonable adjustments (s20(3) EqA) when an offer of a secondment in Montenegro was withdrawn on health grounds. The claimant had been the victim of a crime shortly before having been offered the secondment and had had to attend A&E twice thereafter with significant health issues as a result, but refused to make full disclosure of her health condition. A tribunal dismissed her claim on the basis that the adjustments she sought would leave her at risk and that it was reasonable for the employer to withdraw the secondment offer. The situation was complicated by the claimant’s refusal to make full disclosure to her employer’s OH advisers of her medical history. Continue reading
Queen’s Bench Division (Planning Court): Kerr J,  EWHC 3294 (Admin), 7 December 2021
This was an unsuccessful challenge under Articles 8 and 14 and s149 EqA (the PSED) to experimental traffic orders (ETOs) made by the respondent which took effect from 9 November 2020. The applicants complained that they are severely prejudiced by increased car journey times to and from their school. The challenge was brought under paragraph 35, Part VI, Schedule 9 to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 rather than by way of judicial review, and so did not require permission, but Kerr J pointed out at §4 that the same principles applied. He expressed sympathy for the applicants who he accepted had been disadvantaged by the ETOs but upheld them as proportionate measures in pursuit of legitimate aims of reducing congestion, improving air quality, road safety and accessibility, encouraging active travel to school and social distancing (applying R (SC) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKSC 26,  3 WLR 428 [and see earlier blog]. He rejected the PSED claim on the basis that, taken in the round, the respondent had taken sufficient steps to comply with the duty of due regard.
Court of Appeal: Underhill VP, Baker and Davies LJJ,  EWCA Civ 1703, 24 November 2021
This was an appeal from the refusal of a challenge to the lawfulness of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”) introduced by the government during the first Covid-19 lockdown. The claimants argued that the scheme breaches Article 14 ECHR read with A1P1 by discriminating against self-employed women who took a period of leave relating to maternity or pregnancy in any of the three relevant tax years on which SEISS payments were calculated, this because the level of support granted to them under the scheme was not representative of their usual profits. Whipple J had dismissed the claim having considered the extraordinary pressures under which the scheme was introduced (including the imperative to distribute funds speedily) and the fact that the scheme adopted operated on the basis of data already held by the state. She was not persuaded that the claimants had demonstrated indirect discrimination or Thlimmenos discrimination but proceeded to consider justification, upon which she found against the claimants having adopted the “manifestly without reasonable foundation” approach (the correctness of which had been common ground between the parties).
The claimants appealed on the basis that Whipple J had erred in her approach to indirect discrimination, to Thlimmenos-type discrimination, and to justification. The Court of Appeal (Underhill and Baker LJJ, with whom Davies LJ agreed) agreed that the Judge had misdirected herself as to indirect discrimination by failing properly to take into account the disparate impact of the scheme on women who had taken maternity leave. It found it unnecessary to consider the challenge to the Judge’s application of Thlimmenos and (having considered the decision of the Supreme Court in R (SC) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKSC 26,  3 WLR 428 (see previous post) dismissed the appeal on the basis that Whipple J had been entitled to find that any discrimination was justified (further, that it was in fact so justified). The case provides further illustration (see also R (Salvato) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWCA Civ 1482 and related post) that the movement away from the “manifestly without reasonable foundation” test in cases where suspect grounds are in play is by no means a panacea for claimants.
Divisional Court: Lewis LJ and McGowan J,  EWHC 3114 (Admin), 23 November 2021
The Divisional Court rejected a challenge under Article 14 to the lawfulness of the claimant’s detention following his recall to for failure to comply with the terms of his release on licence. A number of claims were made, including that the application to the claimant of the licence regime imposed by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, rather than its predecessor the Criminal Justice Act 1991, breached Article 14 read with Article 5 and/or 7 of the Convention because he had been treated differently from a prisoner convicted of an identical offence and sentenced to an identical because he had not been in custody at the time that the 2003 Act’s licence regime was imposed, having instead been unlawfully at large.
The Court rejected all the grounds of challenge. As to Article 14, it ruled at §61 that the Claimant was not in fact subject to different treatment by reason of having been unlawfully at large at the material date, rather because of the date on which his offences. At §63, “even assuming differential treatment between the claimant and such a prisoner on grounds of other status, and assuming that they are in an analogous situation, the difference in treatment would be objectively justified. The second defendant wished to move to a different system of release provisions, including increasing the licence period to make it co-extensive with the remainder of the sentence. That was done by making the 2003 Act provisions governing release apply to sentences for offences committed on or after 4 April 2005. The decision to alter the arrangements for early release is objectively justified. The application of the new arrangements to those who committed offences after a certain date is also objectively justified. That conclusion is consistent with the observations of Lord Hughes JSC in R v Docherty (Shaun)  UKSC 62,  1 WLR 181, cited by Lady Black JSC in Stott at paragraph 62”.
Claimant: Philip Rule, instructed by Instalaw
Defendants: Hugh Flanagan, instructed by the Government Legal Department
Court of Appeal: Underhill VP, Moylan and Dingemans LJJ,  EWCA Civ 1572, 2 November 2021
The claimant was a qualified solicitor with “various difficulties and mental health disabilities” who had been unemployed since 2011 and was accepted for the purposes of the litigation as being “vulnerable” as the term is used in the authorities relating to the inherent jurisdiction. He unsuccessfully sought financial orders against the respondents, his parents, requiring them to continue to provide him with significant financial support. His applications failed on the basis that the family court had no jurisdiction to make the orders sought under s27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 or Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 (because his parents were neither divorced nor separated), and that its inherent jurisdiction was not available to assist the applicant because of the “fundamental principle” that the jurisdiction cannot be used when there was “a comprehensive statutory scheme dealing … with the circumstances in which a child, including as here, an adult child, can make a claim against a living parent”. It further ruled that s3 HRA did not permit an alternative construction. The claimant appealed on the basis, inter alia, that the matters complained of fell within the scope of Articles 6 and 8 and A1P1 and engaged a protected status. Moylan LJ, with whom Moylan and Dingemans LJJ agreed, dismissed the appeal. Continue reading
Court of Appeal: Underhill VP, Andrews and Warby LJJ,  EWCA Civ 1482, 13 October 2021
This was an appeal from the decision of the High Court discussed in a previous post. In brief, the High Court (Chamberlain J) ruled that the requirement that the childcare element (CCE) of Universal Credit (UC) could be paid to applicants only after they had actually paid for childcare, rather than becoming liable so to do (“the proof of payment rule”), was unlawful because it discriminated indirectly against women contrary to Article 14 ECHR read with Article 8 and/or A1P1, also because it was irrational. Andrews LJ, with whom Underhill VP and Warby LJ agreed, allowed the Secretary of State’s appeal on both grounds, despite having followed the approach of the Supreme Court in R (SC) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKSC 26,  3 WLR 428 (see associated post) to the question of justification. Having stated at §11 that “Much of the Judge’s legal analysis is exemplary”, Andrews LJ concluded nonetheless that “the Judge did fall into material error when he sought to apply the principles he identified to the evidence in this case, and … there are deficiencies in the reasoning which led him to conclude that the Rule was indirectly discriminatory and irrational.” Continue reading
EAT: HHJ Tayler, EA-2020–000070-DA, EA-2021–000256-DA,  IRLR 17, 7 October 2021
The Claimant brought claims of direct sex and disability discrimination after she received a formal warning in respect of sickness absence which she attributed to menopausal symptoms. She also complained that when she had told her team manager that she was suffering from hot flushes he had told her that he also got hot in the office; that her appeal against the written warning had been exclusively male and that she had been refused a female doctor for an occupational health assessment. A tribunal struck out her claims, ruling that her menopausal symptoms did not amount to a disability and that the sex discrimination claim had no reasonable prospect of success. The EAT (Judge James Tayler) allowed the appeals, ruling that the symptoms of which the claimant complained (hot flushes and sweating, palpitations and anxiety, night sweats and sleep disturbance, fatigue, poor concentration, urinary problems and headaches) amounted on the evidence to physical impairments that were long standing (having lasted in excess of a year at the time of the hearing) and that the tribunal had erred in finding without explanation that they did not substantially affect on her ability to carry out day to day activities in view of the uncontested evidence thather symptoms resulted in her forgetting to attend events, meetings and appointments, losing items, forgetting to lock and put the handbrake on her car and to lock her house on leaving it, leaving household appliances switched on, experiencing dizziness, incontinence and joint pain and spending lengthy periods in bed due to fatigue/exhaustion. The EAT, which also ruled that the tribunal had erred in failing to consider her allegations of sex discrimination, remitted the case for determination of the question of disability.
Claimant: David E Grant and Patrick Tomison, instructed by Advocate
Respondent: Victoria Brown, instructed by the council