Under the influence of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights, the reach and importance of discrimination and equality law have increased exponentially over the last decade. 2010 saw the implementation of the Equality Act 2010, which brings together in a single statute, the previous morass of legislative measures. Equality/discrimination law impacts on an ever increasing range of activities in the public and private sectors, and the categories of prohibited discrimination have multiplied. The implementation and consolidation of the Public Sector Equality Duties (PSED) have been of particular significance; PSED challenges by way of judicial review becoming increasingly common, not least in the context of public sector spending cuts.
Matrix has a particularly strong discrimination and equality group, which is well equipped to deal with these developments. Its members include leading academics and practitioners in the field, with experience in a number of areas of the law where discrimination law principles are relevant. These include education law, election law, employment and equal pay law, police and immigration law and public law more generally. We also have particular expertise in the overarching principles of human rights and EU law.
Matrix members represent a full range of clients. We have members on the approved list of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and who regularly act for NGOs and campaign organisations. Members of the group also act for respondents and defendants in both the public and private sectors, and a number of our members are on the Treasury Panels.
Matrix members have been involved in many of the most important discrimination cases over the past decade. A sample is listed below. In addition to reported cases, however, Matrix members are frequently involved in high profile first instance trials and settlements (the very widely reported sex and race discrimination case of Fariad & Fariad v Tradition being a notable example, with James Laddie QC representing the Claimants).
Notable Recent cases:
Public Sector Equality Duty
• R (Bailey) v LB Brent  EWCA Civ 1586,  All ER (D) 193 (Dec) (library closures: Helen Mountfield QC, Karon Monaghan QC)
• R (Hurley & Anor) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills  All ER (D) 116 (Feb) (university fees: Helen Mountfield QC, Aileen McColgan)
• Johns & Johns v Derby CC  EWHC 375 (Admin) (foster carers: Karon Monaghan QC)
• R (Hajrula) v London Councils  All ER (D) 119 (Apr) (funding cuts: Helen Mountfield QC, Aileen McColgan)
• R (Domb & Ors) v London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham & Anor  EWCA Civ 941,  LGR 843 (budget setting: David Wolfe; Karon Monaghan QC)
• R (Meany, Glynn and Sanders) v Harlow District Council  EWHC 559 (Admin) (funding cuts: David Wolfe)
• R (Kaur & Shah) v Ealing London Borough Council & EHRC  EWHC 2062 (Admin) (funding cuts: Helen Mountfield QC; Karon Monaghan QC; Aileen McColgan and Blinne Ni Ghralaigh)
• R (C) v Secretary of State for Justice & Anor  EWCA Civ 882 (Secure Training Centre (Amendment) Rules 2007: Karon Monaghan QC)
• Jivraj v Hashwani  IRLR 827 (Supreme Court) (application of discrimination provisions to arbitrators: Aileen McColgan)
• Grant v HM Land Registry and Equality and Human Rights Commission  EWCA Civ 769;  ICR 1390;  IRLR 748 (‘outing’ and harassment: Karon Monaghan QC)
• Eweida v British Airways  EWCA Civ 80;  ICR 890 (disparate impact in indirect discrimination Karon Monaghan QC, Mathew Purchase)
• Ladele v London Borough of Islington and Liberty (Intervening)  ICR 387;  IRLR 154;  EWCA Civ 1357 (religious belief and sexual orientation discrimination: Helen Mountfield QC; Karon Monaghan QC; Aileen McColgan)
• Copple & O’rs v Littlewoods  EWCA Civ 1281;  IRLR 121 (remedy for breach of Article 157: Karon Monaghan QC)
• Hovell v Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital NHS Trust  ICR 1545;  IRLR 734;  EWCA Civ 670 (comparators: Antony White QC; Karon Monaghan QC)
• Slack and others v Cumbria County Council and Equality and Human Rights Commission (intervener)  ICR 1217;  IRLR 463;  EWCA Civ 293 (time limits: Karon Monaghan QC)
• R (E) v Governing Body of JFS  UKSC 15 (ethnicity and direct discrimination : Helen Mountfield QC; Aileen McColgan; Thomas Linden QC; Dan Squires; David Wolfe; Adam Sandell)
• R (Watkins-Singh) v Governing Body of Aberdare Girls High School  EWHC 1865 (Admin) (right of Sikh girl to wear at School the Kara: Helen Mountfield QC)
• R (Chapti) v Secretary of State for Home Department  EWHC 3370 (Admin),  NLJR 29 (lawfulness of pre-entry language requirements: Aileen McColgan)
• BE v SSHD  EWHC 690 (Admin) (DDA claim in respect of failure properly to plan and manage disabled people in detention, Nick Armstrong).
• HJ (Iran) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Anor  UKSC 31;  AC 596 (whether gay male claimants could be reasonably to be expected to tolerate concealment of homosexuality or to relocate to avoid persecution if returned to country of nationality: Raza Husain QC and Karon Monaghan QC)
• Gichura v Home Office  ICR 1287 (application of the services provisions to detention in the immigration context, Tom Linden QC, Nick Armstrong)
• Rodriguez v Gibraltar  UKPC 52 (2009) 28 BHRC 189  3 LRC 653 (marriage criterion and sexual orientation discrimination: Karon Monaghan QC; Aileen McColgan)
The leading legal directories recognise Matrix members as leaders in discrimination and equality work across a range of fields. Some highlights include:
"The "confident and unflustered" Helen Mountfield QC is renowned for her judicial review expertise, and "has a particularly good focus on the relationship between education and human rights law." "A recent highlight of her career was the case of R v JFS, which challenged the application of a Jewish faith schools' admissions criteria" (Chambers & Partners).
"A technically able set, Matrix adopts a pragmatic, client focused and flexible approach" (Legal 500).
"The well-regarded set provides high-quality advice on an array of matters, including restrictive covenants, team moves and discrimination issues. Its brightest and best include Thomas Linden QC. Greatly in demand from magic circle firms, he is considered an absolute genius and a pleasure to deal with" (Chambers & Partners).
"Karon Monaghan QC is brilliant on discrimination matters. She is recommended by clients for her representation in the Court of Appeal especially on matters pertaining to human rights in an employment context" (Chambers & Partners).
For more information about our international discrimination and equality work, please visit our sister site, Matrix International.
Click the 'downloads' tab below for the full audio from the seminar series, 'The Equality Act 2010: Everything You Need to Know', held in 2011.