Copsey v WWB Devon Clays Ltd: CA 25 Jul 2005

The claimant said that his employer had failed to respect his right to express his beliefs by obliging him, though a Christian, to work on Sundays.
Held: The appeal failed. ‘The Commission’s position on Article 9, as I understand it, is that, so far as working hours are concerned, an employer is entitled to keep the workplace secular. In such cases an employee is not in general entitled to complain that there has been a material interference with his Article 9 rights.’ A reasonable employer, acting fairly was entitled to change his work practices.


Mummery, Rix, Neuberger LJJ


[2005] EWCA Civ 932, Times 25-Aug-2005, [2005] 1CR 1789, [2005] IRLR 811




European Convention on Human Rights 9


England and Wales


CitedAbernethy v Mott Hay and Anderson CA 1974
Lord Cairns said: ‘A reason for the dismissal of an employee is a set of facts known to the employer, or it may be of beliefs held by him, which cause him to dismiss the employee. If at the time of his dismissal the employer gives a reason for it, . .
CitedKokkinakis v Greece ECHR 25-May-1993
The defendant was convicted for proselytism contrary to Greek law. He claimed a breach of Article 9.
Held: To say that Jehovah’s Witness were proselytising criminally was excessive. Punishment for proselytising was unlawful in the . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Education and Employment and others ex parte Williamson and others HL 24-Feb-2005
The appellants were teachers in Christian schools who said that the blanket ban on corporal punishment interfered with their religious freedom. They saw moderate physical discipline as an essential part of educating children in a Christian manner. . .
CitedBell v The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police CA 19-Jul-2005
The claimant had sued over the way he was treated by the respondent in a fraud investigation. The court had dismissed his claims for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment. A prosecution had been commenced but dropped. The judge had held the arrest . .
CitedStedman v United Kingdom ECHR 9-Apr-1997
(Commission) The applicant alleged that her dismissal for refusal to work on Sundays constituted a violation of her freedom to manifest her religion in worship, practice and observance, contrary to Article 9.
Held: The Commission first had to . .
CitedAhmad v United Kingdom ECHR 1981
(Commision) The applicant was a devout Muslim. His religious duty was to offer prayers on Fridays and to attend a mosque if possible. He was employed as a full time primary school teacher. He complained that he was forced to resign because he was . .
CitedKonttinen v Finland ECHR 3-Dec-1996
(Commission) The applicant was a civil servant and a Seventh-day Adventist. He was dismissed for his refusal to continue working after sunset on Fridays. His contract required him to work on Friday evenings after sunset.
Held: The claim was . .
CitedAhmad v Inner London Education Authority EAT 1976
The appellant was a moslem junior school teacher. The Authority appealed an acceptance of his claim for unfair dismissal, having left his employment because he was not given time off to attend the mosque on Fridays. The Tribunal considered whether, . .
CitedAhmad v Inner London Education Authority CA 1977
The appellant said that his human rights were infringed when, as a moslem, he was refsued time off from his work as a primary school teacher to attend prayers at the mosque on Fridays. He had subsequentlly been re-instated part-time, but complained . .
CitedSB, Regina (on the Application of) v Denbigh High School CA 2-Mar-2005
The applicant, a Muslim girl sought to be allowed to wear the gilbab to school. The school policy which had been approved by Muslim clerics prohibited this, saying the shalwar kameeze and headscarf were sufficient. The school said she was making a . .
CitedKalac v Turkey ECHR 1-Jul-1997
In exercising his freedom to manifest his beliefs an individual ‘may need to take his specific situation into account.’ ‘The Commission recalls that the expression ‘in accordance with the law’, within the meaning of Article 9(2), requires first that . .
CitedX v Y (Employment: Sex Offender) CA 28-May-2004
The claimant had been dismissed after it was discovered he had been cautioned for a public homosexual act. He appealed dismissal of his claim saying that the standard of fairness applied was inappropriate with regard to the Human Rights Act, and . .
CitedSmith and Grady v The United Kingdom ECHR 27-Sep-1999
The United Kingdom’s ban on homosexuals within the armed forces was a breach of the applicants’ right to respect for their private and family life. Applicants had also been denied an effective remedy under the Convention. The investigations into . .
Appeal fromCopsey v WWB Devon Clays Ltd EAT 26-Nov-2003
EAT Disability Discrimination – Disability . .

Cited by:

CitedBegum (otherwise SB), Regina (on the Application of) v Denbigh High School HL 22-Mar-2006
The student, a Muslim wished to wear a full Islamic dress, the jilbab, but this was not consistent with the school’s uniform policy. She complained that this interfered with her right to express her religion.
Held: The school’s appeal . .
CitedMcFarlane v Relate Avon Ltd CA 29-Apr-2010
The employee renewed his application for leave to appeal against refusal of his discrimination claim on the grounds of religious belief. He worked as a relationship sex therapist, and had signed up to the employer’s equal opportunities policy, but . .
CitedJohns and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Derby City Council and Another Admn 28-Feb-2011
The claimants had acted as foster carers for several years, but challenged a potential decision to discontinue that when, as committed Christians, they refused to sign to agree to treat without differentiation any child brought to them who might be . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Human Rights

Updated: 01 July 2022; Ref: scu.228994