European Court of Justice clarifies scope of workplace bans on religious headscarves

Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions NV (European Court of Justice, C-157/15, 14 March 2017) and Bougnaoui v Micropole SA (European Court of Justice, C-188/15, 14 March 2017)

The European Court of Justice has clarified European law surrounding workplace prohibitions on wearing religious symbols in customer facing roles. The Court held that workplace bans on religious dress based on legitimate and objective aims can lawfully prohibit employees wearing visible signs of their religious, political or philosophical beliefs. However, workplace policies based on subjective criteria or which disadvantage people with particular religious beliefs would constitute indirect discrimination.

Read More

Victorian Supreme Court rules that courts have fair hearing and equality obligations to assist self-represented litigants

Matsoukatidou v Yarra Ranges Council [2017] VSC 61 (28 February 2017)

The Supreme Court of Victoria has delivered an important decision on the obligations of courts to ensure fair hearing and equality rights under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (Charter) in the context of unrepresented litigants, and in particular where a litigant has a cognitive disability.

Read More

South African High Court blocks executive withdrawal from International Criminal Court

Democratic Alliance v Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Others (Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution Intervening) (83145/2016) [2017] ZAGPPHC 53 (22 February 2017)

The High Court of South Africa has found that the decision by the national executive to sign and deliver a notice of withdrawal from the Rome Statute without prior parliamentary approval was unconstitutional and invalid.

Read More

US Court of Appeal halts President Trump’s controversial immigration order

State of Washington & State of Minnesota v Trump No. 2:17-cv-00141 (W.D.Wash. 2017) (9 February 2017)

In a unanimous 3-0 decision, the United States Court of Appeal maintained the freeze on US President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order suspending entry of people from 7 countries for 90 days, indefinitely suspending the entry of Syrian refugees and suspending the United States Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days.

Read More

Victorian Supreme Court awards damages for business-related losses "in consequence of" racial discrimination

Obudho v Patty Malones Bar Pty Ltd [2017] VSC 28 (9 February 2017)

The Victorian Supreme Court has found that the cancellation by Patty Malones Bar of an African music themed event on the basis of the race of prospective patrons constituted direct discrimination in breach of the Equal Opportunity Act. The Court awarded compensation to Antony Obudho for his economic and non-economic losses as the organiser of the event, despite the fact that Patty Malones had not had any direct dealings with Mr Obudho and did not have any information about his race or ethnicity.

Read More

UK Supreme Court finds police gave freedom to protestors at expense of public safety

DB v Chief Constable of Police Service of Northern Ireland [2017] UKSC 7 (1 February 2017)

The United Kingdom Supreme Court found that the Northern Ireland police service wrongly determined that they did not have the power to prevent disruptive and violent protests through a residential area. The Court held that freedom of assembly in article 11 of the ECHR is not absolute and police have a duty to protect others from any violence.

Read More

UK High Court rules against MPs withdrawing from EU without Act of Parliament

R (on the application of Miller and another) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2017] UKSC 5 (24 January 2017)

The UK High Court has ruled that ministers of the United Kingdom cannot employ prerogative powers to withdraw from the EU without an Act of Parliament authorising them to do so, as only an Act of Parliament can significantly alter the UK's constitutional arrangements. As EU law was a significant source of UK domestic law, the majority ruled that this legal source could not be removed by ministerial decision alone.

Read More

English Court finds that direct contact between children and transgender mother not in their best interests considering exclusion from ultra-Orthodox Jewish community if allowed

J v B [2017] EWFC 4 (20 January 2017)

In a complex case, the Family Court in England has ordered that a transgender mother is not permitted to have direct contact with her five practising, ultra-orthodox Jewish children, on the basis that the benefits to the children of resuming contact would be outweighed by the harmful community reaction to the children and their family. However, the Court ordered that indirect contact four times a year be allowed.

Read More

UK Supreme Court finds that the “Crown act of state” doctrine bars certain international claims

Rahmatullah (No 2) v Ministry of Defence [2017] UKSC 1 (17 January 2017)

The UK Supreme Court has unanimously held that the “Crown act of state” doctrine acts as a bar to certain claims against the Crown in the field of international affairs. In this case, the detention of a Pakistani national by British forces and their transfer to US custody (under which he was detained for 10 years) were “Crown acts of state” for which the UK Government can not be liable under the UK's tort laws.

Read More

Victorian Court of Appeal upholds finding that establishment of youth justice centre at Barwon adult prison unlawful

Minister for Families and Children v Certain Children by their Litigation Guardian Sister Marie Brigid Arthur [2016] VSCA 343 (29 December 2016)

The Victorian Court of Appeal upheld a Supreme Court decision that the Victorian Government's decision to establish a youth justice centre inside the Barwon maximum security adult prison was unlawful. The Court held that the Minister and Governor in Council failed to have regard to children’s rights and Victoria’s legal obligations but overturned a finding that the Minister had acted for an improper purpose in establishing the facility.

Read More