Equality and Discrimination

Practice Summary

Doughty Street Chambers has unique and highly regarded expertise in domestic and international equality and discrimination law.  Our barristers regularly represent claimants and defendants in domestic tribunals and courts, in the appeal courts up to the Supreme Court, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.  Our civil barristers have run ground-breaking cases under both the anti-discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation), and Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Our Public Law practitioners have been trail-blazing in their use of the public sector equality duty to challenge public law decisions taken in the context of public sector fiscal restraint in a wide range of areas of public sector provision.  Seven members of chambers are on the Equality and Human Rights Commission panel of preferred counsel.


The upholding of the right to equality and non-discrimination is a strand that runs through the work done by all of our civil teams.  A number of teams also specialise in this area of work including the Actions Against the Police team, Administrative and Public Law team, Community Care and Health Team, Education team, Employment and Industrial Law team, Housing and Social Welfare team, Immigration team, Mental Health and Court of Protection team, and the Prisoners' Rights team. A large number of our members take on cases under public access.


Our barristers are regularly instructed in high profile and appellate cases.  Recent cases include:

  • The Supreme Court case concerning the lack of free abortions on the NHS to women and girls who travel from Northern Ireland: R (A & B) v Secretary of State for Health (2017).
  • The ongoing EAT case concerning divisibility of damages in a multiple causation case and deductibility of private health insurance following a successful claim for disability discrimination: Brown v Colt (2017).
  • The ongoing EAT case concerning whether the harassment provisions in the Equality Act 2010 extend to asserted/perceived disability: Peninsula Business Services Ltd v Baker (2017)
  • The ongoing EAT case of direct race discrimination and victimisation concerning the shifting of the burden of proof in discrimination and particularly victimisation claims: Bowler v Chief Constable of Kent (2017 and ongoing)
  • The successful claim ongoing case concerning a claim for direct and indirect race discrimination by an of an alleged victim of trafficking: Ale v Chungani (2017)
  • The ongoing case arising from damage caused by the practice of undercover police officer’s entering into a sexual relationship with women. The practice is also the subject of a petition to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (2017).
  • The ongoing challenge by a number of teachers for race and religious discrimination against the National College of Teaching and Leadership in relation to the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ prosecution: (2017)
  • The groundbreaking claim for direct discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, against a Catholic school who had refused to consider an application from a headteacher on the grounds that it would only consider applications from practising Catholics: Raw-Rees v Governing Body of St Padarn’s Primary School (2017). 
  • The Court of Appeal challenge to the government’s decision to restrict the number of Afghan interpreters injured while working with British forces entering the UK as unlawful and discriminatory: Hottak v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2016).
  • The Supreme Court case challenging the government’s bedroom tax, in particular, the impact of this policy on the disabled and victims of domestic violence people who are largely women. MA v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2016).
  • The Court of Appeal case concerning the extent of disabled people’s rights to independent living under the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities: Davey v. Oxfordshire (2016).
  • The Supreme Court case considering the scope of the public sector equality duty when determining the priority need for accommodation of disabled person who had family support: Hotak v Southwark London Borough Council (2016)
  • The Supreme Court case concerning the nature of the comparator in a claim for discrimination on grounds of nationality regarding an immigrant's EU free movements rights: Nouazli v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2016) Now the subject of an application before the ECtHR.
  • The Supreme Court case which held that the government’s benefit cap is in breach of the UK’s obligations on children’s rights: SG v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2015)
  • The Court of Appeal case that considered whether the government’s decision, to exclude from income-related benefits third county nationals who were carers of an EU child, was discriminatory on grounds of nationality: Sanneh v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions & Ors (2015)
  • The High Court case concerning whether the decision by a housing association to refuse to allocate public housing due to a lack of mental capacity was discriminatory on grounds of disability: R (MT) v  Oxford City Council (2015)
  • The EAT case challenging the Government’s practice of paying high fees to retired judges who were members of parole boards compared to non-judicial members as constituting race discrimination: Greenland v Secretary of State for Justice (2015)
  • The Court of Appeal case challenging the government’s decision to withdraw disability living allowance from children who were hospitalised for more than 84 days as discriminatory: AM v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2014)
  • The High Court case that held that the introduction of a residency test for eligibility for legal aid was discriminatory on grounds of nationality and could not be justified merely by reference to cost savings: R (Public Law Project) v Secretary of state for justice & Ano (2014)
  • The High Court case challenging the government’s decision to remove areas of prison law from criminal legal aid law as discriminatory: R (Howard league for Penal Reform & Ors) v Lord Chancellor (2014)
  • The High Court case that held that the NHS’s charging rules for overseas visitors did not amount to indirect discrimination, but that in making the rules the Secretary of State had failed to comply with his public sector equality duty: R (Cushnie) v Secretary of State for Health  (2014)
  • The EAT case considering the limits of the scope of the requirement to make a reasonable adjustment prior to dismissing a disabled employee who had acquired a criminal conviction for a reason related to her disability: Howorth v North Lancashire Teaching Primary Care Trust (2014)
  • The Supreme Court case that held that the Christian owners of a hotel, and the Court of Appeal judgment that the owners of a B&B, had discriminated against a gay couple: Bull v Hall (2013), Morgan and Black v Wilkinson (2013).
  • The Court of Appeal case concerning the first successful claim for disability discrimination in relation to police officers’ treatment of a member of the public who was severely autistic: ZH v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (2013).
  • The Court of Appeal case considering remittance of a sex discrimination case brought by a Royal Navy chief petty officer: MoD v Cartner (2011), and the EAT case on the scope of remittance disability discrimination (reasonable adjustment) case: Gardner v Chief Constable of the West Midlands (2013)
  • The Court of Appeal case which removed judicial proceedings immunity, and permitted a headteacher to argue that a local authority had breached the implied contractual term of mutual trust and confidence by placing undue pressure on a witness to produce a statement containing false evidence: Singh v Moorlands Primary School Governing Body & Ano (2013)
  • The High Court case challenging the government’s policy on searches of male prisoners on grounds of religious discrimination and sex discrimination: Dowsett v Secretary of State for Justice (2013)
  • The Court of Appeal case considering whether the termination of a mobile home owner’s licence was discrimination on grounds of disability: Telchadder v Wickland (Holdings) Ltd (2012)
  • The EAT judgment that suspension of a disabled support worker by her care home, amounted to harassment on grounds of her disability: Prospects for People with Learning Difficulties v Harris (2012)
  • The Supreme Court case which considered whether conditions of entitlement to state pension credits was indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality: Patmalniece v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions & Ano (2011)
  • The Court of Appeal sex discrimination case using EU law to challenge the use of the opt-out principle to limit access of part-time employees to employer’s pension scheme: Copple v Littlewood Plc (2011) 
  • The Supreme Court case which established that Gay asylum-seekers should be given refugee status in circumstances where if they were returned they would be persecuted unless they concealed their sexuality: HJ and HT v SSHD  (2010)
  • The High Court case which held that the Secretary of State had breached his duties towards a disabled prisoner by failing to make reasonable adjustments to enable him to complete the offending behaviour programme: R (Gill) v Secretary of State for Justice (2010)
  • The High Court case challenging the Legal Service Commission’s tendering process for contracts to provide funded legal services in public law and mental health as breach fo public sector equality duty on disability: Public Interest Lawyers v Legal Services Commission (2010).
  • The widely reported tribunal finding of age discrimination against the BBC brought by TV presenter Miriam O’Reilly (2010).


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