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Appeal court dismisses student’s discrimination claim against ULaw

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Ian Nwabueze ordered to pay £5,000 in costs

A former student who accused The University of Law (ULaw) of discrimination has had his claim struck out by the Court of Appeal.

Ian Nwabueze alleged that the university and six members of its staff discriminated against him when he was studying for a masters in professional legal practice in 2017. The judgment, which was delivered by the Court of Appeal on Friday, does not delve into the details of his claim.

He had brought the claim in the employment tribunal, which was dismissed on the basis that ULaw is a university, not a qualification provider, and so only the county court has jurisdiction.

Nwabueze argued on appeal that ULaw is not legally defined as a university because they were not granted new degree awarding powers in 2012. The appeal court found, however, the employment tribunal was right to find ULaw is a university under the Equality Act 2010.

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Nwabueze was studying the Legal Practice Course (LPC), of which seven modules are compulsory to meet the Solicitor Regulation Authority’s requirements, and two additional modules which were not.

Lord Justice Bean said:

“It would be chaotic if [Nwabueze] had to divide his complaints by reference to particular modules, claiming in relation to the seven compulsory modules in the [employment tribunal] and at the same time claiming in the county court relating to the rest. [I]f a body is a governing body of a university this displaces its status as a qualification body.”

Bean LJ ruled the former student’s claim could only be brought in the county court and that the employment tribunal has no jurisdiction. He added that the court was in no position to decide on the merits of the allegations.

Nwabueze was ordered to pay ULaw £5,000 plus VAT in costs.

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