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UK Supreme Court passes judgement in disability case discussed by Equinet Legal WG

December 13th 2012
The UK Supreme Court dismissed the appeal case of X v Mid Sussex CAB, thus agreeing with the decisions of the lower courts that the appellant as a volunteer falls outside the scope of the protection against discrimination on the ground of disability afforded by European anti-discrimination legislation.
On 12 December 2012 the UK Supreme Court gave its judgment in the case of X v Mid Sussex CAB, a case concerning the protection from discrimination of volunteers in the UK and the European Union legal order. The British Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) intervened in the case supporting the appellant.

Equinet’s working group on legal issues has analysed this case in its 2010 report and members of the working group provided information to the EHRC on their relevant domestic legislation.

The appellant worked as a volunteer adviser (thus without a binding legal contract) at the respondent Citizens Advice Bureau. She claims that she was asked to cease to act as a volunteer in circumstances amounting to discrimination against her on the grounds of disability.

The Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have held that the Employment Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear her case, on the ground that she is, as a volunteer, outside the scope of the protection against discrimination on the grounds of disability intended to be provided under domestic law and the EU Employment Framework Directive (2000/78/EC).

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on the ground that, leaving aside the subject matter of guidance, training and work experience covered by article 3(1)(b), article 3 is not directed to voluntary activity. The Supreme Court also considered that a reference to the Court of Justice of the EU in the case was neither required nor appropriate.

You can also find here an article dealing with the potential impacts of the case in UK law written by two of the barristers who represented the EHRC in the case.
Download the full UK Supreme court judgement.