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Chambers & Partners
15/05/2019

Old Square Success Before Court Of Appeal In High Profile Disability Discrimination Case

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Judgment has been handed down the high-profile case of Anderson v Turning Point Eespro in which Mary O’Rourke QC and Nicola Newbegin appeared for the successful respondent and Ijeoma Omambala and Nadia Motraghi appeared for one of the interveners, the mental health charity Mind.

The case concerned whether or not an Employment Tribunal (“ET”) had erred in the way it had handled the appellant’s mental ill health.  In dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the ET had not erred in its approach.  The ET had identified that reasonable adjustments were required and facilitated a referral to the Bar Pro Bono Unit so that Ms Anderson could obtain representation.  The ET adjourned the hearing to enable her to do so.  As a result, Ms Anderson was professionally represented at the subsequent two hearings.  It was not required in addition to hold a “ground rules hearing” to ascertain what specific adjustments might be required nor was it required to obtain its own expert advice on Ms Anderson’s condition.  The ET’s concerns had been remedied by the obtaining of professional representation for Ms Anderson.

Giving guidance as to the role of the ET in such circumstances, Underhill LJ held that generally it is entirely appropriate for a tribunal to leave it to the professional representatives of a party who is under a disability to take the lead in suggesting measures to prevent them suffering any disadvantage.  Whilst the ET retains ultimate responsibility for ensuring that a disabled party receives a fair hearing, and there may be cases where a tribunal should take steps that the party’s representative has not asked for, those cases should be the exception.  He added that he would expect any difficult or contentious issues about reasonable adjustments to be canvassed at the case management hearing stage of proceedings.

Mary O’Rourke QC and Nicola Newbegin were instructed by Jessica Jones and Roxanne Buckley of DWF LLP.

Ijeoma Omambala and Nadia Motraghi, acting pro bono, were instructed by Stephen Heath, in house lawyer at Mind.

To view the judgment, please click here.

Key contacts

Mary O’Rourke QC

Mary O’Rourke QC 020 7269 0357 Email

Nicola Newbegin

Nicola Newbegin 020 7269 0305 Email

Ijeoma Omambala QC

Ijeoma Omambala QC 020 7269 0357 Email

Nadia Motraghi

Nadia Motraghi 020 7269 0357 Email

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