Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

It’s not every week that you get two discrimination-related judgments from the Supreme Court but that’s what we’ve got this week with the handing down of the judgments in Homer v West Yorkshire Police and Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes This is a case concerning direct age discrimination and, specifically, the justifications that can be used for direct age discrimination.

The facts in Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes (a Partnership)

Mr Seldon (“the Appellant”) commenced working for the Clarkson Wright and Jakes (“the Respondent”) in 1971 and was made an equity partner in 1972. The partnership agreement that Mr Seldon signed in 2005 stipulated that, similar to the previous partnership agreements, partners whom attained the age of 65 whilst working for the firm would retire the following December. Mr Seldon did in fact reach the age of 65 in 2006 but realised that he would have to keep working because of his various commitments.  The partners disagreed with this and offered Mr Seldon a £30,000 ex gratia payment. Mr Seldon did not believe that this was sufficient and notified the partners that he was considering litigating under the (as they were then) Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, now replaced by the Equality Age 2010. The partners subsequently withdrew their offer of the ex gratia payment. Mr Seldon proceeded to submit claims of direct age discrimination and victimisation in March 2007.

Mr Seldon failed at the Employment Tribunal as the Employment Tribunal believed that the difference in treatment had been justified by particular aims (giving associates an opportunity of partnership, facilitating workforce planning, and limiting the need to expel underperforming partners). Mr Seldon therefore appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal which remitted the case on one point (namely whether another age than 65 could have been used). The Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Seldon’s appeal and he appealed to the Supreme Court on the following grounds:

  1. The tests for direct and indirect age discrimination justification should not be fused
  2. The treatment afforded should not be justified generally but in relation to Mr Seldon’s situation

The law relating to direct age discrimination

Under Regulation 17 of the Age Regulations (now under the Equality Act 2010) an employer (including partnerships) are prohibited from treating an employee less favourably than other employees because of their protected characteristic (in this case age). In this case it was accepted that the treatment afforded to Mr Seldon was direct age discrimination – it was treatment directly related to his age (his being forced to retire at the age of 65). The interesting element in Seldon was the Supreme Court’s elaboration on the justification for direct age discrimination (direct age discrimination is the only incident of direct discrimination that is possible to be justified).

Direct age discrimination could be justified under the Age Regulations if the difference in treatment on the grounds of age is:

  1. Objectively and reasonably justified
  2. Consistent with the social policy aims of the state; and
  3. Appropriate to the aim and reasonably necessary to achieve it

The Supreme Court’s decision in Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes (a Partnership)

The Supreme Court rejected Mr Seldon’s appeal and remitted the case to the Employment Tribunal on the issue specified above (whether an age other than 65 could have been used). The Supreme Court considered that the original Employment Tribunal had sufficiently distinguished between the justifications for direct and indirect discrimination. Further, the use of a general rule instead of using Mr Seldon’s particular circumstances was also justified.

Our specialist employment lawyers’ thoughts on Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes (a Partnership)

This case demonstrates that claims for direct (and indirect) age discrimination can often be difficult to pursue. In particular, a claim for direct age discrimination can be defeated by the employer showing that there was a justification for the treatment afforded (although in many cases the employer won’t be able to credibly demonstrate that its treatment was reasonable and objective).

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.78 Average

138 Reviews

Richard O

Chris at Redmans is my go-to legal expert when it comes to employee-related matters. His depth of knowledge, experience and considered approach to problems and their solutions is highly valuable. I cannot recommend Redmans highly enough.

Posted 2 days ago

Rory Y

They provide me with timely and clear advice!

Posted 2 days ago

Steven C

Redmans handled my settlement with my employer quickly, decisively and to a standard that I was very happy with. I would in similar circumstances contract them again

Posted 2 days ago

Deepthi K

Transparent. Clear communication. Prompt reply’s. Saves lot of time. Very satisfied.

Posted 2 days ago

Anonymous

Chris and Sacha did a fantastic job and negotiated a significant better settlement agreement

Posted 2 days ago

Dino D

I did get a very swift and god service from Redmans

Posted 2 days ago

Stephanie H

Clear, prompt, effective support from Chris which has been very much appreciated. Thank you again.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

I would highly recommend Redmans Solicitors, the team were very friendly and my case was dealt with professionally and efficiently. Thank you!

Posted 1 month ago

Shane M

Very professional, welcome advice at a crucial time. Always available and reasonable cost.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

My case was relatively straight-forward. But even so, working with Redmans was easy, quick, professional & clear. Many thanks

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

The team were very helpful and answered all my questions regarding my redundancy. Initially I had a call with one of the representatives who escalated my request to a suitable employment solicitor. We arranged a call to discuss the settlement and she helped answer all my questions. We then mainly contacted through email which helped resolve the settlement quickly and convently. Thanks for all the help.

Posted 1 month ago

Djaouida T

You have good communication.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional. A highly recommended company for employment related issues.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Very professional service.

Posted 1 month ago

Brittany

I was very grateful for Redmans to treat my case with respect and discretion. At the time, I was very new to London and it was meaningful to have someone on my side and win the case for me. Without any doubt, I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors to anyone who is in need of it.

Posted 9 months ago

Jake L

Chris is very professional and calm. Very attentive and patient, been a positive experience having Chris represent me, and would recommend him.

Posted 10 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service. It was a pleasure to work with Chris H, who is brilliant at what he does and very efficient. Their Senior Associate Rana T. is also very knowledgeable and resolves any queries speedily and efficiently. My issue could unfortunately not be resolved, but that was due to my employer and not the firm. Redmans however did all they could. I would definitely recommend them.

Posted 10 months ago

Anonymous

Very pleasant and quick to deal with. Mnay thanks.

Posted 11 months ago

Anonymous

Easy to get hold of. Quick.

Posted 11 months ago

Owen J

Very helpful, efficient service.

Posted 11 months ago

Anonymous

I am very lucky that I worked with Mr. Chris Hadrill and he managed my case very progressively with an analytical approach and trustfully. Of course with a very positive result. I strongly recommend Mr. Hadrill to any one seeking for a successful result from a highly qualified solicitor.

Posted 11 months ago