Irrationality

April 28th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In Gardner v SoS for Health and Social Care (2022) EWHC 967 (Admin) a Divisional Court dismisses claims under the Human Rights Act, but upholds common claims in respect of documents that set out an “irrational” policy in “failing” to advise that where a Covid asymptomatic patient was admitted to a Care Home, he or she should, as far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for 14 days. At para 139 the Court stated that it cannot be said, as a general proposition, that the adjudication of past alleged breaches of duty which have now been repeated is always academic or a hypothetical exercise in the context of judicial review.

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PSED & ETOs

April 5th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In R (SHEAKH) v LAMBETH LBC (2022) EWCA Civ 457 a challenge to the authority’s discharge of the PSED failed in relation to 3 Experimental Traffic Orders relating to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. At para 10 the. Court of Appeal emphasized 5 points: (1) Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 does not require a substantive result; (2) Nor does it prescribe a particular procedure; (3) It does however imply a duty of reasonable enquiry; and (4) It requires a decision-maker to understand the obvious equality impacts of a decision before adopting a policy; (5) Courts should not engage in unduly legalistic investigation of the way in which an authority has assessed the impact of the decision on the equality needs. See also paras 11-18 inc for an update on the BRACKING Principles.

 

Article 8

February 24th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In Craig v Her Majesty’s Advocate (2022) UKSC 6 the Supreme Court consider the “in accordance with the law” element within Article 8(2) of the ECHR. An interference with Article 8(1) guaranteed respect for private and family life is capable of being justified under Article 8(2). Such interference can be justified only if (1) it is “in accordance with the law”, (2) pursues a “legitimate aim”, and (3) is “necessary in a democratic society”.  The Supreme Court explains at paragraph 49 that in order to satisfy the first of those three requirements, the interference must be in accordance with domestic law and the domestic law must meet the requirements of the rule of law, so as to afford adequate legal protection against arbitrariness. The Supreme Court states at paragraph 50 that this is an absolute requirement. There is no margin of discretion in meeting it.

 

Discrimination

January 24th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In R (TP) v SoS (2022) EWHC 123 Admin) the Court reiterates the relevant legal principles on discrimination under Article 14 of the ECHR from paragraph 98 as follows.

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Modern Slavery

December 3rd, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

Art 4 of the ECHR provides that no one shall be held in slavery or servitude. Positive duties are implicit in Art 4: (1) a systems duty, a general city to implement measures to combat trafficking; (2) an investigation duty, to investigate situations of potential trafficking; and (3) a protection duty, or operational duty, to take steps to protect individual victims of trafficking. The protection duty is engaged when state authorities are aware of circumstances giving rise to a credible suspicion that an identified individual has been, or was at real and immediate risk of being, trafficked or exploited. See R (H) v Swindon BC (EWCA) Civ 1836.

 

DISCRIMINATION IN RECRUITMENT OF FOSTER CARERS

September 28th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In R (Cornerstone) v OFSTED (2021) EWCA Civ 1390 the Court of Appeal held that OFSTED had power to require Cornerstone to disapply or modify its recruitment policy for foster carers, as contained in its charitable instrument, notwithstanding the views of the Charity Commission. Different regulators May each reach their own conclusion within their respective competencies. When carrying out Inspections, OFSTED is entitled to have regard to the Equality and Human Rights Acts.
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ECHR

August 4th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

Protocol 15 to the ECHR has entered into force. It amends the Preamble to the ECHR, to include references to (1) the subsidiarity principle and (2) the margin of appreciation doctrine. The Protocol also makes procedural changes.

 

Freedom of Expression

July 21st, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In McNally v Saunders (2021) EWHC 2012 (QB) summary judgment is granted to the defendant, an online blogger, in respect of a claim against him under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The claim was brought against him by a local authority’s Director of Public Health with the support of the authority. It concerns a series of personally critical blog articles and tweets. The Judge balances on the one hand  the public interest in the Director being able to fulfil her role without being subjected to conduct which undermines her ability to do so, and on the other hand freedom of expression.

 

 

Discrimination

July 9th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In A&B v CICB (2021) UKSC 27 the Supreme Court reaffirmed that ECHR Art 14 does not cover differential treatment on any ground, but only on a ground of status: para 40. This has a broad meaning and must be generously interpreted : paras 42 and 57. However, the basis of discrimination of which complaint is made must have an existence independent of the measure under attack: para 59. Relevant status cannot be defined solely by difference in treatment: para 66. The Supreme Court also reaffirms that discrimination may arise where the State fails to treat differently persons whose situations are significantly different: para 69.

 

Human Rights

July 9th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In R (SC) v SoS for Work & Pensions (2021) UKSC 26 a Seven Justices Supreme Court holds that (1) it is not appropriate for domestic Courts to determine whether the UK has violated its obligations under unincorporated international law : paras 74-96; (2) in approaching proportionality under ECHR Art 14 a nuanced approach is required, which is not fully captured by a “manifestly without reasonable foundation” standard of review, and which in some circumstances calls for mush stricter scrutiny : paras 97-162; and (3) only limited use can be made of Parliamentary material in considering whether primary legislation is compatible with ECHR rights: paras 163-185.