Birmingham City Council v Abdulla and Others: SC 24 Oct 2012

Former employees wished to argue that they had been discriminated against whilst employed by the Council. Being out of time for Employment Tribunal Proceedings, they sought to bring their cases in the ordinary courts. The Council now appealed against the refusal to strike out the claims on the basis that they could more conveniently have been heard by the tribunals.
Held: The appeal failed (Wilson, Hale, Rogers LL majority, Sumption and Carnwath LL dissenting). The fact that the six months limit in the Tribunal had never allowed an extension by discretion, was enough to imply a recognition of the alternative jurisdiction available to claimants. Save for any other element of abuse, it could never be said that a case could be more conveniently disposed of where that disposal would be an inevitable dismissal without consideration of the merits or justice of the case.
Lord Sumption (dissenting) said that a decision in favour of the claimants would frustrate the underlying purposes of the 1970 Act. The availability of the limitation defence was of particular significance for employers. The notion of ‘convenience’ under section 2(3) was much wider than the mere efficient distribution of business. The fact that a claim in the tribunal would be out of time was highly relevant, but not conclusive.

Lady Hale, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath
[2012] UKSC 47, [2013] IRLR 38, [2012] ICR 1419, [2012] Eq LR 1147, [2012] WLR(D) 294
Bailii, Bailii Summary
Employment Rights (Dispute Resolution) Act 1998 1(2)(a), Equal Pay Act 1970 2(3)
England and Wales
At first instanceAbdulla and Others v Birmingham City Council QBD 17-Dec-2010
The defendant applied for an order declaring that the claim would better be brought in an employment tribunal and that accordingly the County court should decline jurisdiction.
Held: The application was dismissed: ‘ I reject the submission by . .
Appeal fromBirmingham City Council v Abdulla and Others CA 29-Nov-2011
The Council appealed against an order dismissing its application for the claimants’ claims under equal pay legislation to be struck out for want of jurisdiction. The claims had been brought in the High Court rather than te hEmployment Tribunal, thus . .
CitedSpiliada Maritime Corporation v Cansulex Ltd, The Spiliada HL 1986
Forum Non Conveniens Restated
The House reviewed the authorities on the principle of forum non conveniens and restated how to apply the principle where the defendant seeks a stay of proceedings on the ground that there is another more appropriate forum.
Held: ‘In the . .
CitedAshby and Others v Birmingham City Council QBD 3-Mar-2011
The claimants appealed against the strike out of their claims for damages for breach of contract on imposing changes in employment contract and conditions. The County Court had accepted the Council’s arguments on the construction and application of . .
CitedLitster and Others v Forth Dry Dock and Engineering Co Ltd HL 16-Mar-1989
The twelve applicants had been unfairly dismissed by the transferor immediately before the transfer, and for a reason connected with the transfer under section 8(1). The question was whether the liability for unfair dismissal compensation . .
CitedDelaney v Staples HL 15-Apr-1992
The claimant had been dismissed but had been given no payment in lieu of notice. She claimed to the Industrial Tribunal that this was an unlawful deduction from her wages and that therefore the Industrial Tribunal had jurisdiction.
Held: The . .
CitedLevez etc v T H Jennings (Harlow Pools) Ltd (No 2) EAT 1-Oct-1999
The restriction on the awards of compensation for sex discrimination to payments in respect of a period of two years prior to the claim was unlawful. Claims of other natures were not so limited, and this could not be supported, since it was in . .
CitedPreston and Others v Wolverhampton Healthcare NHS Trust and Others; Fletcher and Others v Midland Bank plc ECJ 16-May-2000
ECJ Social policy – Men and women – Equal pay – Membership of an occupational pension scheme – Part-time workers – Exclusion – National procedural rules – Principle of effectiveness – Principle of equivalence. . .
CitedPreston and Others v Wolverhampton Healthcare NHS Trust and Others, Fletcher and Others v Midland Bank Plc (No 2) HL 8-Feb-2001
Part-time workers claimed that they had been unlawfully excluded from occupational pension schemes because membership was dependent on an employee working a minimum number of hours per week and that that was discriminatory because a considerably . .
CitedRadakovits v Abbey National Plc CA 17-Nov-2009
The Tribunal had considered the question of jurisdiction as a preliminary issue. It heard evidence, and considered that there was no jurisdiction. This was despite the fact that, at an earlier stage, the employer had said that it would not contest . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Discrimination, Limitation

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.465179