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Win for Secretary of State in Independent Living Fund Equality Duty case

On 8 December 2014 Andrews J gave judgment in R(Aspinall, Pepper and formerly Bracking) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2014] EWHC 4134 rejecting the Claimants’ judicial review challenge to the decision to close the Independent Living Fund. In 2013 the Claimants had successfully challenged a previous decision to close the Independent Living Fund on public sector equality duty grounds. That challenge had failed at first instance and been successful in the Court of Appeal (R(Bracking) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] EWCA Civ 1345). After the Court of Appeal had quashed the first decision, the new Minister for Disabled People (the Rt Hon Mike Penning MP) considered the matter afresh and decided to close the Fund. The same Claimants brought a challenge to that second decision, arguing that the new Minister had again failed to comply with the public sector equality duty.  The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened and argued that the decision did not comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). 

Both arguments failed. In her judgment in Bracking (No2) Andrews J considered:

  • The nature and extent of a public authority’s information gathering duty under the public sector equality duty;
  • The extent to which the UNCRPD impacts on the exercise of the public sector equality duty;
  • The circumstances where evidence and opinions of Parliamentary Select Committees are inadmissible in litigation because they are protected by Parliamentary Privilege.

Katherine Apps represented the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, led by Martin Chamberlain QC of Brick Court Chambers and instructed by the Treasury Solicitor.

For a copy of the judgment click here. For BBC news coverage on this case click here

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