Reviewed by: David R Pickup
Author: John Wadham, David Ruebain, Anthony Robinson, and Susie Uppal (editors)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
This is not a review of the Equality Act 2010 but a review of a book about the act. You cannot legislate to make society equal let alone make people equal; one can merely aim to make society fairer. Everyone experiences unfairness at some time in their lives if not all the time. Are diversity and equality mutually exclusive? Most of everyday commercial life is targeted at groups in society, whether it is cheaper insurance for older people because there is evidence they claim less often, or reduced costs travel for young people who tend to take trains at off-peak times. Society is not perfect and neither is legislation. Ideas about what unfairness should be outlawed change constantly.
As lawyers we advise on the law as it is rather than comment on what the law should or should not be. Lawyers should welcome anything that makes legislation easier to understand and use. The intention behind this act is to consolidate it into one place. The act replaces the previous anti-discrimination laws, and simplifies the law, removing inconsistencies and making it easier for people to understand and comply with. Equality legislation is made a little more equal. The provisions of the legislation were brought into force at different times to ensure people and organisations affected by the new laws have plenty of time to prepare. The basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions, premises, work, education, associations, and transport is in force, but more controversial areas are not. A minor comment about this book is that I found it difficult to tell which parts are in force. The text consists of just over 250 pages and the rest is a copy of the act which, with schedules, runs to almost as many pages.
Solicitors need to be aware of the act as advisors, employers and providers of services. It is essential to have access to a guide to this legislation. There are number of very clear free guides to the act generally, or to specific areas of interest. The writers should be congratulated on a very clear and practical guide. They are not preachy or judgmental (unlike this reviewer).
David Pickup is a partner in Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott