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Equality and Discrimination Law

Matrix is among the leading chambers for equality and discrimination law. The exceptional breadth and depth of its members’ expertise across the full range of equality work places it in an especially strong position to fulfil any need for advice or advocacy in this area from all parties (including interest groups and other inteveners).

Matrix barristers act in all areas of equality and discrimination law, both domestic (including under the Equality Act 2010 and under the Human Rights Act 1998) and international (including the European Convention on Human Rights, EU law and other international instruments). They have expertise in a wide range of areas in which equality issues arise, including employment, the provision of goods, facilities and services, transport, education, prisons, and other public functions. In complex cases which cover various different issues, Matrix is particularly well-placed to provide a team of experts and draw upon its members’ breadth of knowledge and experience. Its members’ practices extend from first instance trials in the employment tribunal, first-tier tribunal, and civil courts, to judicial reviews in the Administrative Court and Court of Session, to appeals to the appeal tribunals, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, to hearings in the European Court of Human Rights and other international tribunals.

Matrix members regularly appear in the leading and most cutting-edge cases on equality law. Some recent significant cases include the following:

R (Elan-Cane) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] UKSC 56 [2021] 2WLR 133 [2022] 2 All ER 1

  • A Supreme Court appeal concerning the question whether the requirement for a person’s passport to identify them as male or female discriminated against a person who identified as non-gendered, relying on Article 14.
  • Sarah Hannett QC acted for the Secretary of State.

Anwar v Advocate General for Scotland [2021] UKSC 44 2021 SLT 1453 [2022] ICR 146

  • A Supreme Court appeal concerning the availability to a person claiming discrimination in the employment tribunal of a ‘warrant for diligence’ from the Court of Session or the sheriff court to prevent the employer dissipating its assets, relying on EU law.
  • Aidan O’Neill QC acted for the claimant.

Home Secretary v MD and EH [2022] EWCA Civ 336

  • An appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning a public law challenge to the denial of child trafficking support to asylum seekers, relying on Article 14.
  • Chris Buttler QC and Ayesha Christie acted for MD and EH, the claimants.
  • R (Savlato) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2021] EWCA Civ 1482 [2022] PTSR 366 [2022] HRLR 2
  • An appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning a public law challenge to the arrangements for claiming the childcare costs element of universal credit because of their impact on single mothers, relying on Article 14.
  • Chris Buttler QC and Jessica Jones acted for Ms Salvato. 

R (Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service Ltd) v OFSTED [2021] EWCA Civ 1390 [2022] 2 All ER 516 [2022] PTSR 595 [2021] IRLR 993

  • An appeal concerning the lawfulness of the policy of a fostering agency to require foster carers to refrain from sexual activity outside of a traditional Christian marriage.
  • Aidan O’Neill QC and Ben Silverstone acted for Cornerstone; Sarah Hannett QC acted for OFSTED. 

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Hughes [2021] EWCA Civ 1093 [2022] ICR 215 [2021] Pens LR 17

  • An appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning age discrimination arising from the cap on compensation available under the Pension Protection Fund to perone who had not attained their normal pension age, relying on EU law.
  • Zoe Leventhal QC acted for the Secretary of State.

Steer v Stormsure Limited [2021] EWCA Civ 887 [2021] ICR 1671 [2021] IRLR 762

  • An appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning a challenge to the inability of the employment tribunal to grant interim relief in Equality Act claims, relying on Article 14.
  • Mathew Purchase QC acted for the Secretary of State, intervening.

Turani v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 348 [2021] 1 WLR 5793 [2022] 1 All ER 254

  • An appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning the application to persons outside the UK of both the prohibition of discrimination and the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Blinne Ní Ghrálaighacted for the claimants.

Heskett v Secretary of State for Justice [2020] EWCA Civ 1487 [2021] 3 All ER 36 [2021] ICR 110 [2021] IRLR 132

  • An appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning the extent to which indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 can be justified on costs grounds.
  • Claire Darwin and Nathan Roberts acted for the Secretary of State.

R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 542 [2021] 1 WL 1151 [2020] 4 All ER 1027

  • An appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning a judicial review claim that the obligations on landlords to take measuires to ensure they did not provide accommodation to tenants who were disqualified as a result of their immigration status resulted in indirect discrimination related to nationality and ethnicity, in reliance on Article 14.
  • Philippa Kaufmnann QC acted for the Joint Council; Nick Armstrong acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, intervening.

Forstater v CGD Europe [2022] ICR 1 [2021] IRLR 706

  • An Employment Appeal Tribunal appeal concerning whether gender-critical beliefs were protected as philosophical beliefs under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Karon Monaghan QC acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, intervening.

Dobson v Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust [2021] ICR 1699 [2021] IRLR 729

  • An Employment Appeal Tribunal appeal concerning whether judicial notice can be taken that women generally have greater childcare responsibilities than men, so as to give rise to prima facie indirect sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Claire Darwin and Emma Foubister acted for Working Families, intervening.

R (FDJ) v Secretary of State for Justice [2021] EWHC 1476 (Admin) [2021] 1 WLR 5265

  • A judicial review challenge concerning whether the Secretary of State’s policy on the location of trans prisons discriminated against non-trans women, relying on Article 14 and the Equality Act 2010.
  • Karon Monaghan QC and Jessica Jones acted for FDJ, the claimant; Sarah Hannett QC and Nathan Roberts acted for the Secretary of State.

R (Vincent) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2020] EWHC 1976 (Admin)

  • A judicial review challenge to the impact on disabled people of the requirement to repay Loans for Mortgage interest immediately on the sale of the mortgaged property, relying on Article 14,
  • Paul Skinner acted for the Secretary of State.

For Women Scotland Ltd v Lord Advocate [2022] CSIH 4 2022 SC 150 2022 SLT 289

  • An appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session concerning the scope of the protected characteristic of ‘sex’ and its relationship to gender reassignment.
  • Aidan O’Neill QC acted for For Women Scotland Ltd.

Newey v Chancellor of Coventry Diocese [2021] EACC 1

  • An appeal to the Arches Court of Canterbury concerning the lawfulness of refusing to allow an Irish language inscription on a headstone in reliance on Article 14.
  • Blinne Ní Ghrálaighacted for Conradh na Gaeilge, intervening.

Leung Chun Kwong v Secretary for the Civil Service and another [2019] HKFA 19

  • A appeal to the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal concerning the denial of spousal benefits to a same-sex couple because of Hong Kong’s refusal to recognise their marriage.
  • Karon Monaghan QC acted for Mr Leung, the claimant.