Blackstone seals diversity directive win against Govt

Blackstone Chambers has scored a major victory for the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in a judicial review against the Government.

Blackstone’s Dinah Rose QC persuaded the High Court that the Government had failed to comply with its obligation to implement the 2002 Equal Treatment Amendment Directive (ETAD) properly.

Rose’s arguments were so convincing that Mr Justice Burton stated in his judgment that David Pannick QC, also of Blackstone and acting for the Department of Trade & Industry, “buckled” under her submissions.

Rose challenged the Government’s implementation of the ETAD, arguing that women would not enjoy the full protection against sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination required by the European directive. She added that women could also lose aspects of existing maternity rights already established in UK case law if the regulations were allowed to go forward.

Burton J accepted the argument that the definition of harassment in the Government’s regulation was too narrow and did not reflect the broad protection provided in the directive.

The regulation would have also meant pregnant women would have to show that they had been treated worse than they would have been before they were pregnant. It was successfully contended that the comparison does not make sense as the needs of pregnant women are very different.

Rose’s junior was Karon Monaghan of Matrix Chambers. Both were instructed by law firm EOC. Blackstone’s Gerard Clarke assisted Pannick, who was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor’s Department.