Townsend-Smith on Discrimination Law: Text, Cases and Materials

Admittedly, 623 pages on discrimination law is not my idea of an enthralling read, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to turn past the dour front cover.

Townsend-Smith on Discrimination Law: Text, Cases and Materials
By Michael Connolly
Publisher: Cavendish Publishing Ltd
Pages: 690 Price: £29.95 ISBN 1-85941-795-7 Reviewed by Alison Norris
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Inside was the inevitable small-pitched text with generous sprinklings of footnotes and reams of case references. I initially flicked through, thinking there was no way I was going to read it cover to cover, but strangely, was soon hooked.

This book is both absorbing and easily digestible. The fluid style makes it an enjoyable read, while its clear structure means it’s an accessible ready reference and valuable addition to any HR office bookshelf.

As would be expected, it provides a handy source of specialist legal knowledge, akin to having an expert on the team. It is exceptional, though, in how adeptly the extensive coverage of rules and rulings, case law and European law, is slotted neatly into a social context.

The first few chapters set the scene, followed by the main areas of discrimination law in logical sections, concluding with enforcement and affirmative action.

The book is clearly an attempt to categorise and instil order in the rapidly multiplying masses of discrimination legislation, and it succeeds, making sense out of relative chaos.

The original edition was created by Richard Townshend-Smith, a highly-respected master of discrimination law, who made comment on and contributed to legislative development in this area since its very early days. Townshend died in 2002, but Connolly, an obvious devotee, has built on his work, changing the structure of the original edition to make it more palatable, while maintaining the breadth of focus. It has also been updated to include references to more recent legislative developments, such as the Macpherson Report and the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The result is a comprehensive but user-friendly work compressing the full width of discrimination law into one volume, while maintaining a conversational tone.

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Alison Norris, HR business partner, Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

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