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Eversheds chief to face sex bias claim

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  • This article contains inaccurate information about the proceedings between me ( R.MacLaverty) and Eversheds and Mr.Loy . It indicates that : (1) I had resigned from Eversheds in 2000 and (2) the hearing of my case would take place in Birmingham because Mr.Loy was well known as an employment lawyer in Newcastle. This is not correct. I had in fact resigned in 1999 ( March 1999). The proceedings were transferred to Birmingham in 2000 on the grounds that this would be a better venue than Newcastle for a preliminary hearing, in view of the locations of the witnesses. The preliminary hearing had been requested by Eversheds who alleged that an agreement to settle the proceedings had been reached through ACAS. However the preliminary hearing did not go ahead as Eversheds withdrew. Neither party requested a transfer after Eversheds’ withdrawal from the preliminary hearing and in September 2000 the Birmingham Employment Tribunal fixed a date in April 2001 for the hearing of my complaints.
    R.MacLaverty 20th February 2010

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  • On 29 September 2000 Employment Judge C P Rostant of the Birmingham Employment Tribunal made an award of costs against Eversheds on the grounds that their conduct had been unreasonable. Costs award are not commonly made by Employment Tribunals and they were even less common in 2000 than they are now. Employment Judge C P Rostant found that Eversheds had been unreasonable for five months of a period during which they argued that my claims in the Employment Tribunal (Case No. 2502689/99) had been settled through ACAS. ( Eversheds had requested that there be a hearing to determine whether or not settlement had been reached. They withdrew from the hearing in the week before their application regarding alleged settlement was fixed to be heard.) In his Extended Reasons, contained in his Decision ( promulgation date 25 October 2000) Employment Judge Rostant stated that he was "deeply troubled by the manner in which the respondents have conducted themselves". He also found that “it is at least possible even on the correspondence from the respondents that they might have had difficulty in pointing to a final agreement on all matters constituting a settlement with the ACAS officer.” He referred to Mrs. Williams and the fact that she had the conduct of the proceedings.
    I appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal against the Costs Decision - I argued that all of the costs claimed should have been awarded and that Eversheds' conduct had been unreasonable for the entire period in which they had pursued a hearing to determine the issue of alleged settlement. The EAT appeal was settled in May 2001. (EAT references 1491/00 and 0027/01). Eversheds paid all the costs I sought.
    The Equal Opportunities Commission were made aware of the Costs Decision in February 2001 when I applied to them for assistance with the main action and the EAT Appeal. The EOC’s legal committee considered the application and declined to help with either set of proceedings. The EOC declined to give assistance with the appeal on the award of costs on the grounds that it did not “ fall within an area which has currently been identified as being of special interest for the Commission”. Costs awards were only made when a party has acted unreasonably in the course of proceedings. The Commission was a body which was supposed to be dedicated to combating sex discrimination How could the EOC not have a special interest in cases where ex- employers were found to have conducted themselves unreasonably in defending sex discrimination proceedings? I would have preferred it if the appeal had been heard but I was not sure that the EAT would hear it since Eversheds had offered to pay all the costs I sought. I therefore agreed to settle. I wish that the EOC had helped me. In my opinion the case concerned a number of important matters. These included the interpretation of section 18 of the Employment Tribunal Act which relates to ACAS.
    The Employment Tribunal Service is under a statutory duty to maintain a register of Employment Tribunal Decisions which is open to the public. It appears that the Decision of Employment Judge Rostant in this case was not included in the figures which appear in the ETS’ annual report to Parliament for the relevant year. It appears that the Decision was not first placed on the Register until 2003. When I made a subsequent enquiry about the Decision , the ETS staff responsible for the Register found it, only after prompting from me.
    R. Mac Laverty 23.2.2010

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