Equality and non-discrimination is at the heart of Doughty Street Chambers’ civil work, and has been a cornerstone of our work since our inception in 1990. Our members have unique and highly regarded expertise in both the domestic and international legal frameworks and have acted in a number of ground-breaking cases, including in the Supreme Court, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. Doughty Street members have expertise across all protected characteristics, and in the interplay between equality and human rights and public law through Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the public sector equality duty. Our members have expertise of equality and discrimination issues as they arise in practice areas ranging from international human rights, employment or public law, through to actions against the police, housing and community care.

Twenty-one members of chambers are on the Equality and Human Rights Commission panel of preferred counsel.

Recent examples of our work include:

  • R (Delve) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [Court of Appeal, July 2020]: of the team represent the female claimants arguing that the increase in state pension age is discriminatory on grounds of age/sex and contrary to human rights and EU principles

  • R (C) v Kingston Upon Hull City Council [2020]: judicial review of the local authority’s strategy with respect to sex workers, including on the grounds that it failed to comply with the public sector equality duty

  • Abrahart v University of Bristol [2020]: Reasonable adjustments for a university student with Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Singh v Colchester Borough Council [2020]: successful race discrimination claim against local authority who failed to renew contract of IT engineer

  • Stannard v OCS (London) Ltd [2020]: multi day sex discrimination and sexual harassment claim on behalf of senior female manager who alleged she was forced out in favour of male colleague.  Result awaited.

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party [2019-2020]: members of the team represent both the Commission and the Campaign Against Antisemitism

  • [2020] Instructed by two disabled people in a claim against a multinational travel website for breaches of the EA, including selling accessible rooms in a hotel which did not, in fact, have any. The claim ended in a settlement.

  • R (The Motherhood Plan) v Chancellor of the Exchequer (ongoing): a challenge to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”) introduced in April 2020 to provide financial support to self-employed persons whose business had been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount of money a person receives is determined by their average trading profits between the tax year 2016/2017 and 2018/2019. However, the calculation method discriminates by making no adjustment for breaks or reduced trading caused by pregnancy or maternity. The claim has been granted permission and an expedited hearing is due to be listed.

  • Inquest into the death of Edson Da Costa [2019]: members of the team represented the family of a man who died after police restraint, whose death has featured in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.

  • R (ASK) v SSHD, R(MDA) v SSHD [2019] EWCA Civ 1239, [2019] WLR(D) 405: Successful appeal on behalf of two immigration detainees with serious mental illness who had lost mental capacity to participate in decision-making or challenge their detention and removal. The Court of Appeal found that the Secretary of State had breached the public sector equality duty in s149 EA 2010 by failing to have regard to their disability, and had also breached the duty in ss20 and 29 EA 2010  by failing to make reasonable adjustments to decision-making processes in light of the appellants’ disability. Led by Stephanie Harrison QC (ASK) and Amanda Weston QC (MDA).

  • Advising Professional Footballers Australia on the discriminatory implications of the substantial difference in World Cup prize money between the men’s and the women’s tournaments.

  • Furlong v Chief Constable of Cheshire [2019]: Represented the Claimant in his successful claim for direct discrimination on grounds of his race, sex and sexual orientation. The case involved novel points of law in respect of the application of section 159 of the Equality Act 2010, which permits potential employers to take positive action in certain circumstances when recruiting. Although the Respondent’s aim was laudable, the way in which it had conducted its recruitment process did not meet the requirements of the statutory provisions and amounted to direct discrimination.

  • Jackson v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd [2018]: successful sexual harassment claim concerning a number of male colleagues with claimant awarded substantial compensation

  • Reid v London Borough of Lewisham and another [2018]: Successful appeal in the EAT, challenging the ET’s approach to the proportionality of the employer’s justification defence in a disability-related discrimination claim.

  • Bowler v Chief Constable of Kent Police [2018]: where the Claimant was awarded damages, including aggravated damages, for claims of direct race discrimination and victimisation. On appeal, the EAT considered the adequacy of material from which the Tribunal drew an inference that an alleged discriminator had held stereotypical views and from which the ET had concluded a prima facie case of less favourable treatment on race grounds had been established.