Lady Hale and Lady Black to rule on case about ethnic minority barrister’s discrimination claim
Next week, the first ever Supreme Court case to be before a bench including two female justices will take place.
On 4 October, a (still male-dominated) panel will consider the case of O’Connor v Bar Standards Board. The case concerns a black lawyer whose claim the regulator is systematically biased against ethnic minority barristers was struck out because limitation had expired. O’Connor, a professional negligence and consumer law barrister of 14 years’ call, seeks to have this decision overturned.
While the bar regulator limbers up to defend the appeal, eyes turn to the five-person bench hearing the case. Both Lady Hale and Lady Black will be on the panel, making its female proportion 40% — its highest ever.
Black is a brand new Supreme Court judge who will be joined by fellow newbie Lord Lloyd-Jones on the O’Connor case. Lord Briggs rounds off the trio of new justices.
Black, Lloyd-Jones and Briggs’ accession to the bench will be made official two days before the O’Connor hearing, on 2 October. This date is the start of the Michaelmas term and the swearing in of the three new justices. Hale will also formally be made president of the Supreme Court that day, while Lord Mance will become deputy.
Other interesting cases to look out for this Michaelmas include an appeal from the Northern Irish Court of Appeal on its abortion law, a question about the lawfulness of the prison smoking ban, and a trade mark squabble between Twentieth Century Fox and a UK comedy club. And then there’s the restrictive covenant case of Morris-Garner, if you’re into that sort of thing.
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