Supreme Court to have final say in Birmingham equal pay case

The Supreme Court will decide whether the High Court has jurisdiction to hear equal pay claims after giving Birmingham City Council permission to appeal a Court of Appeal (CoA) ruling.

The decision will impact hundreds of equal pay claimants who had thought their claims sat outside the Employment Tribunal (ET) limitation period. The case is scheduled to be heard on 11 July.

Birmingham City Council has instructed Cloisters employment silk Paul Epstein QC to lead the appeal, after the CoA found that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear equal pay claims (20 November 2011).

That decision had given hope to hundreds of equal pay claimants who had thought that such claims had to be heard in the ET meaning they were out of time to bring them.

Leigh Day & Co partner Chris Benson instructed Outer Temple barrister Andrew Short QC to represent 174 women with alleged equal pay claims. The group, who worked as cleaners, cooks, catering staff and care staff, want compensation for bonuses they allege they were excluded from because they were handed to employees in traditionally male-dominated jobs such as refuse collectors, street cleaners, road workers and gravediggers.

The council tried at the High Court to have the claim struck out on the basis that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the claims, arguing that they were better suited to the more ET.

Leigh Day countered that to transfer the claims to the ET would render them outside its specific limitation period leaving the tribunal with little choice but to strike out the proceedings.