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Miriki v General Council of the Bar

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The Court of Appeal has handed down its decision in Miriki v General Council of the Bar (21st December 2001).

Mrs Miriki was employed by the Bar Council. She was off work during a period when her department within the Bar Council was being reorganised, due to a combination of maternity leave and contracting malaria whilst on holiday in Nigeria. The Bar Council were unable to contact her during the consultation period, and eventually informed her of her redundancy during a meeting when she returned.

She claimed unfair dismissal and race discrimination. The employment tribunal held the dismissal had been fair, on grounds of redundancy, and dismissed the race claim. The EAT overturned the decision. It permitted various grounds to be argued at the substantive appeal which were wider than those permitted at the preliminary hearing. The Bar Council appealed.

The Court of Appeal held it was inappropriate for the EAT to allow arguments on wider grounds than those permitted at a preliminary hearing, subject to the EAT's case management powers to make limited departures from those grounds (which did not happen). The proper course for an Applicant who wished to raise further grounds was to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Whilst obiter, of significant importance is the Court of Appeal's further departure from the House of Lord's controversial decision in Anya v University of Oxford (which provided that employment tribunals have to consider all allegations of race discrimination raised by Applicants, no matter how historical or peripheral, because they might be material to a decision whether to draw an inference of race discrimination). The Court of Appeal stated:

"Anya was a very different case...Each case must be decided in the light of its own particular circumstances. It cannot be right that in every case the tribunal must make express findings of every pirce of circumstantial evidence, however peripheral, merely because the applicant chooses to make it the subject of complaint."

The full decision can be seen here.