News and Events

Age Discrimination / New EAT decisions

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1. Age Discrimination - Awards of Excellence for Age Awareness
2. New EAT decisions


1. Age Discrimination - Awards of Excellence for Age Awareness

Margaret Hodge, Employment and Equal Opportunities Minister, has today awarded eight recruitment consultancies the first Age Diversity in Recruitment Awards of Excellence. This is part of the government's effort to ensure that business considers candidates on the basis of their skills and experience, and not their age.

Readers will recall that the government issued a Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment on 16th June 1999. This was in lieu of its pre-election promise to introduce age discrimination legislation (Hansard, 9th Feb 1996). However, the Code is voluntary only and appears to have had little effect. A survey by the Employers’ Forum on Age revealed that 3 in 10 employers had never heard of the Code, less than 1 in 10 intended to make any changes to the way they recruit and train, and 68% said that a voluntary code will make no difference to the way they run their business. According to a report in The Times (15th June 2000), the Prime Minister’s advisory unit on older people recommended that the Code of Practice be replaced with a statutory code.

The proposed EC Employment Framework Directive is due to be formally agreed within the next day or so, which will require member states to introduce age discrimination legislation by 2006.


2. New EAT Decisions

These cases are unreported (although some may be reported in due course). All transcripts can be found at

Adegbite v Commissioners of Inland Revenue [14.11.2000, Bell J.] 
The Applicant appealed on the basis that, in a long(ish) race discrimination case, her comparatively inexperienced trade union representative was against a very experienced employment Counsel and was thus at a disadvantage, leading to a possible perception of bias. The EAT rejected this argument, holding that the parties chose their own representatives and the informality of tribunal hearings did not lend themselves to such arguments. The EAT also endorsed the Chairman's power when limiting the length of a representative's cross-examination.

Chelsea Village Management Ltd -v- Omar Ali [1.11.2000, HHJ Wilson] 
The Applicant was awarded approx. £22,000 in a race discrimination case. Although the appeal was allowed on the merits on the grounds of insufficient reasoning, the EAT specifically stated that the failure to set out the factors for, and the different heads of, the award rendered the decision on quantum flawed.

Professional Development & Selection Ltd. -v- Wahab [26.10.2000, Mr Commissioner Howell] 
The employer attended a full hearing without any witnesses, having been erroneously informed by his solicitors that it was a directions hearing only and that he needed neither witnesses nor legal representation. The chairman, who was sitting alone, rejected an application for an adjournment. The EAT remitted the substantive case to a fresh tribunal on the basis that the chairman had not properly considered whether it was appropriate for him to hear the case alone. It did not comment on whether the refusal of the adjournment was a wrongful exercise of discretion.