Litigation Recent Decisions 13/08/96

Material difference other than sex justifying unequal pay

British Coal Corporation v Smith & ors (1996).

HL (Lords Keith, Browne-Wilkinson, Slynn, Steyn and Hoffmann) 22/5/96.

Summary: Employer fails to discharge burden of proof that difference in pay between men and women employees was not because of the difference in sex.

Appeal by British Coal Corporation against CA decision (28/4/94) dismissing its appeal against the EAT decision which allowed an appeal by 1,286 women workers against a ruling that there was no material difference under s.1 (3) Equal Pay Act 1970 to justify a difference between their pay and that of male workers in equivalent work and cross-appeal by the respondents as to s.1 (3) against the decision that they could not rely on a comparison with a clerical worker.