Request for adjournment refused

London Fire and Civil Defence Authority v Samuels, IDS Brief 669, EAT

Samuels’ race discrimination claim included allegations against B. The authority’s lawyer obtained details from the various witnesses of their unavailable dates for May and June 2000 but omitted to tell the barrister who attended the directions hearing that those were the only two months for which unavailable dates had been ascertained.

The hearing was fixed for 14-18 August. B was unavailable because he had booked a three-week holiday for that month. He intended to travel to Spain at the time of the hearing but had made no travel arrangements.

The request for an adjournment was refused. The barrister had not taken issue when the dates were fixed, B had no planned arrangements for the relevant dates and the interests of justice in bringing the matter to hearing promptly and efficiently outweighed the reasons for the adjournment.

The authority’s appeal to the EAT failed. The chairman’s decision was not perverse. Although there was little or no prejudice to Samuels in adjourning the hearing, this was only one factor to take into account. The chairman was correct to consider the importance of the efficient administration of the tribunals system.

 


Who is the appropriate comparator?


Lawrence v Regent Office Care, IRLB 645, Court of Appeal

Lawrence and more than 400 other women brought equal pay claims after their salaries were reduced following the “contracting out” to three commercial organisations of the cleaning services which they had previously performed for the council. Their comparators were the male workers still retained by the council.

They relied on the council’s job evaluation study in which the women’s work was evaluated as equivalent to the men’s and the fact that neither the work done by Lawrence or the male employees had changed significantly following the “contracting out”.

The tribunal dismissed the claim, as did the EAT, because the male employees were not in the “same employment” – a requirement of the Equal Pay Act.

The Court of Appeal referred the matter to the ECJ. The ECJ is to determine whether Article 141 is directly applicable, in which case Lawrence can be compared with the male council employees even though not employed by the same employer. The Court of Appeal noted the far-reaching effects the ECJ’s decision could have.

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