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Review of Discrimination: A Guide to the Relevant Caselaw

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Review by Naomi Cunningham, Outer Temple Chambers

This slim book is now in its 32nd edition. That fact is almost review enough. When it was first published in 1988, the internet was barely thought of, and Harvey had fairly recently (and daringly) expanded to 3 volumes.

When you consider what has changed since 1988, it is extraordinary that a paper volume containing a necessarily highly selective collection of summaries of cases decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal on questions of discrimination law should retain a place in the employment lawyer’s library. One might think it would have been made redundant years since by highly searchable online caselaw resources - BAILII, Westlaw, Lawtel et al.

I think the answer lies in the fact that it has stayed small and selective: it offers a quick and easy reminder of the main features of discrimination law, and what it loses in comprehensiveness it makes up in comprehensibility, digestibility; and perhaps most importantly, overview. It will never be the end point of research, but it will very often be the beginning.

The organisation is thematic, with many of the sections prefaced by a quotation of the domestic or European legislative provision under consideration. Because of that scheme, some cases recur several times under different headings. There is no attempt to summarise the facts of the cases: each entry is a succinct statement of a legal principle. Some are admirably succinct: the shortest, one of the two entries for Mandla v Lee [1983] IRLR 209, reads simply ‘Sikhs are a group defined by “ethnic origins.”’

Michael Rubenstein is one of the great and the good of employment law. He is a former chairman and now honorary vice-president of the Industrial Law Society, editor of the Industrial Relations Law Reports since they began in September 1972, an honorary Master of the Bench at Middle Temple and many other things besides. Editing the Industrial Relations Law Reports must have given him an encyclopaedic knowledge of employment case law rivalled by few in the profession.

Discrimination: A Guide to the Relevant Caselaw, 27th edtn.
Michael Rubenstein