Employment Cases Update

Page v The Lord Chancellor [2021] EWCA Civ 254

Date published: 01/03/2021

Appeal against the dismissal by the ET, and upheld by the EAT, of a claim that the removal of the Appellant from the magistracy constituted unlawful discrimination and/or harassment in relation to his religion or belief and/or victimisation. Appeal dismissed.

The Appellant was a magistrate and in July 2014, while sitting as a member of the family panel, he expressed views, based on his beliefs as a Christian, about the appropriateness of the adoption of a child by a same-sex couple and declined to sign an order approving such an adoption. That led, in December that year, to him being formally reprimanded by the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor, who are the Respondents to the appeal. On 11 March 2015 he gave an interview to the BBC repeating his views. That in turn led to further disciplinary proceedings, and on 29 February 2016 the Lord Chancellor wrote to inform the Appellant that he and the Lord Chief Justice had decided that he should be removed from the magistracy. His removal took effect from 9 March 2016. The Appellant brought proceedings to the ET claiming that his removal constituted unlawful discrimination and/or harassment in relation to his religion or belief and/or victimisation. His claim was dismissed, a decision which was upheld by the EAT. The Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The Appellant was removed as a magistrate because he declared publicly that in dealing with cases involving adoption by same-sex couples he would proceed not on the basis of the law or the evidence but on the basis of his own preconceived beliefs about such adoptions. He was not, which was the only issue on this appeal, removed because he had complained about the earlier disciplinary proceedings against him. The basis on which he was dismissed was entirely lawful and involved no breach of his human rights.

Read the full text of the judgment on the Judiciary website or download the file by clicking the link below.