Supreme Court ruling gives ‘thousands of women’ access to equal pay justice

Anthea Christie – one of our employment law specialists in London – is delighted by a Supreme Court ruling that will allow thousands of women to pursue claims for equal pay in the High Court…

I was extremely please to read about the Supreme Court’s decision in relation to equal pay claims brought by 174 individuals, mainly women, against Birmingham City Council.

The claims were ‘out of time’ to be pursued in the Employment Tribunal, and so were presented as breach of contract claims in the High Court, within the six year time limit applicable for such claims.

The Council sought to have the claims struck out of the High Court under section 128 of the Equality Act 2010 on the basis that it is more convenient for the Tribunal to hear them. The High Court rejected this application. The Council appealed to the Court of Appeal, which rejected the appeal. The Council appealed again to the Supreme Court. The appeal was again rejected, and the Supreme Court found that cases such as the instant claims can never be more conveniently disposed of by a tribunal where they would be time-barred.

The importance of this decision cannot be over-estimated. Had the claims been struck out, the claimants would have lost the opportunity for ever to have their claims heard. Whilst we don’t know what the eventual outcome of the claims will be, this decision means that the claimants now have the chance to put their cases forward and to be heard. And it paves the way for potentially thousands of other women to pursue claims for equal pay, which are out of time to be pursued in the Employment Tribunal, in the High Court.

A victory in the fight for access to justice!

Anthea Christie, Employment, Marcus Weatherby,
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