M H Marshall v Southampton And South West Hampshire Area Health Authority (Teaching): ECJ 26 Feb 1986

ECJ The court considered the measure of compensation in a successful claim for sex discrimination arising from the health authority’s provision of an earlier compulsory retirement age for women compared with that for men in the same employment. The health authority paid her the maximum sum of pounds 6,250 which was then permitted as compensation under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the House of Lords referred to the CJEU the question whether it was essential to the due implementation of article 6 of Council Directive 76/207/EEC (‘the Equal Treatment Directive’) that her compensation should not be less than the loss she had sustained and that it should include an award of interest.
Held: The term ‘dismissal’ contained in article 5(1) of Directive no 76/207 must be given a wide meaning; an age limit for the compulsory dismissal of workers pursuant to an employer’s general policy concerning retirement falls within the term ‘dismissal’ construed in that manner, even if the dismissal involves the grant of a retirement pension. In view of the fundamental importance of the principle of equality of treatment for men and women, article 1(2) of Directive no 76/207 on the implementation of that principle as regards access to employment and working conditions, which excludes social security matters from the scope of the directive, must be interpreted strictly. It follows that the exception to the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex provided for in article 7(1)(a) of directive no 79/7 on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment in matters of social security applies only to the determination of pensionable age for the purposes of granting old-age and retirement pensions and the possible consequences thereof for other benefits. Article 5(1) of directive no 76/207 must be interpreted as meaning that a general policy concerning dismissal involving the dismissal of a woman solely because she has attained the qualifying age for a state pension, which age is different under national legislation for men and for women, constitutes discrimination on grounds of sex, contrary to that directive. Wherever the provisions of a directive appear, as far as their subject-matter is concerned, to be unconditional and sufficiently precise, those provisions may be relied upon by an individual against the state where that state fails to implement the directive in national law by the end of the period prescribed or where it fails to implement the directive correctly. It would in fact be incompatible with the binding nature which article 189 confers on the directive to hold as a matter of principle that the obligation imposed thereby cannot be relied on by those concerned. Consequently, a member state which has not adopted the implementing measures required by the directive within the prescribed period may not plead, as against individuals, its own failure to perform the obligations which the directive entails. In that respect the capacity in which the state acts, whether as employer or public authority, is irrelevant. In either case it is necessary to prevent the state from taking advantage of its own failure to comply with community law. According to article 189 of the EEC Treaty the binding nature of a directive, which constitutes the basis for the possibility of relying on the directive before a national court, exists only in relation to ‘each member state to which it is addressed’. It follows that a directive may not of itself impose obligations on an individual and that a provision of a directive may not be relied upon as such against such a person.
Article 5(1) of council directive no 76/207, which prohibits any discrimination on grounds of sex with regard to working conditions, including the conditions governing dismissal, may be relied upon as against a state authority acting in its capacity as employer, in order to avoid the application of any national provision which does not conform to article 5(1).


C-152/84, [1986] IRLR 140, [1986] ICR 335, R-152/84, [1986] EUECJ R-152/84, [1986] 2 WLR 780, [1986] 1 CMLR 688, [1986] 2 All ER 584, [1986] ECR 723, [1986] QB 401




Directive no 76/207 5(1)



Cited by:

CitedNottinghamshire County Council v Meikle CA 8-Jul-2004
The claimant was a teacher who had come to suffer a sight disability. She complained that her employers had failed to make reasonable accomodation for her disability, and subsequently she resigned claiming constructive dismissal and damages for . .
CitedRutherford and Another v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry CA 3-Sep-2004
The claimants alleged that the legislation governing retirement was indirectly discriminatory against men. Though the right not to be unfairly dismissed maximum age limit was the same for men and for women, that did not apply on a redundancy.
CitedAlabaster v Barclays Bank Plc and Another CA 3-May-2005
The claimant sought increased maternity pay. Before beginning her maternity leave she had been awarded a pay increase, but it was not backdated so as to affect the period upon which the calculation of her average pay was based. The court made a . .
CitedPercy v Church of Scotland Board of National Mission HL 15-Dec-2005
The claimant appealed after her claim for sex discrimination had failed. She had been dismissed from her position an associate minister of the church. The court had found that it had no jurisdiction, saying that her appointment was not an . .
CitedChagger v Abbey National Plc and Another CA 13-Nov-2009
The claimant appealed against the limitation of 2% placed on the uplift of his award of damages for having failed to comply with relevant dispute procedures. The tribunal had found exceptional reasons for reducing the uplift given the size of the . .
CitedMeikle v Nottinghamshire County Council EAT 19-Aug-2003
EAT Disability Discrimination – Less favourable treatment. The appellant brought proceedings against the Respondents alleging that they had failed to make adjustments to her workplace and conditions so as to . .
CitedDoughty v Rolls Royce Plc CA 19-Dec-1991
The claimants sought to assert their rights under the Equal Treatment Directive, whoch had not been implemented. She had been made to retire at 60, but said that had she been a man she would not have had to retire until she reached 65 years old. She . .
CitedLittlewoods Ltd and Others v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs SC 1-Nov-2017
The appellants had overpaid under a mistake of law very substantial sums in VAT over several years. The excess had been repaid, but with simple interest and not compound interest, which the now claimed (together with other taxpayers amounting to 17 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Discrimination, Damages

Updated: 01 October 2022; Ref: scu.133907