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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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20 Comments

Stephen

Headline is misleading, surely the claimant has merely issued his proceedings in the wrong Court, therefore ULaw can still be found to have discriminated against him.

Alex

Agree! Very misleading headline by Legalcheek

Anonymous

How on earth did this cost £5,000? How much would it have cost just to write him back a letter saying ‘wrong court, mate?’

Spam Gran

No doubt U Law did tell him that, but he insisted on fighting this issue out in court.

Anonymous

But why did the court insist on letting him rather than just writing to him saying ‘sorry mate, wrong court’. That wouldn’t have cost £5,000.

Mr A. Non, Scrounging Costs Lawyer

Presumably the Employment Tribunal did exactly that, at relatively low cost. Then the Employment Appeals Tribunal said the same. Then the CoA has had to say the same for the third time.

These costs however are not the costs incurred by the court (our taxes paid for that) but those of ULaw who were required to fight this three times. I’d be surprised if ULaw’s actual costs were not in fact much higher than £5k and have been rounded down considerably.

What self-respecting barrister who get out of bed for less than £5k, let alone scurry on down to the CoA?

Anonymous

But why on earth would the U of Law have to pay £5k or more. They just need to write to the Court saying that its the wrong jurisdiction and the Court does thd rest. That’s it. Any other costs they incurred they chose to spend and therefore aren’t recoverable.

Our taxes don’t pay for court proceedings, the issuance fees (highest in the world) do this.

And a lot of barristers ‘get out of bed’ for 5k.

Still trying to understand how ghis cost 5k or more.

Zoe

If few more cases turn up same like this…ULAW done and over.

No

If cases turn up at the wrong court and are dismissed with costs ordered against the claimant? I don’t think that it going to topple a university.

Lurva

Forgive me please, Ian Nwabuze was studying for a Legal Practice Certificate at Master’s degree level. Surely the most basic thing he should know is the right courts to lodge his suit. Why did he not know this?

Anonymous

And why did he need to be told it by the Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal?

Anonymous

But why did the court insist on letting him rather than just writing to him saying ‘sorry mate, wrong court’. That wouldn’t have cost £5,000.

Anonymous

Click. On. The judgment. Read it. The Employment Tribunal kicked it out, he appealed, the EAT kicked it out, he appealed, the Court of Appeal kicked it out. Looking forward to the application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

If you want to comment away without reading the story why don’t you jog off to the Daily Mail website?

David

It’s high time that the remit of the Employment Tribunal was widened to become the Employment & Equalities Tribunal. The OIA cannot rule on uni discrimination cases, and the county courts lack the ET’s skills and experience. Instead, students are forced down a path that discriminates against them as a group when compared to employees.

Anonymous

Nonsense. Moaning snowflake students do not need to clog up the Employment Tribunals. What an appalling suggestion.

Anonymous

It’s not just about uni students. Anyone who is not an employee does not have the discrimination protection that the ET offers to employees. The ET is where the judges with specialist expertise reside. The county courts are clueless.

Scandalous Holborn Legal Charity

This worrying lack of legal protection for non-employees includes any law student doing pro bono work and millions of other volunteers all across the UK.

For all the incredible work volunteers do everyday, it’s absolutely shameful that they have no recourse to be able to go to an experienced judge if they experience racism or sexual harassment whilst giving their time for free to help others.

Anonymous

Hi, broken record.

Anonymous

4,500 uni discrimination cases in two years discovered by the BBC, a uni complaints adjudicator that cannot rule on student discrimination cases, lack of adherence by unis to defined procedures for disabilities assessment, the Legal Aid Agency in a state of collapse, and an EHRC that admits to not having any means in place to track uni student discrimination cases. It is the perfect storm.

bedraggled of counsel.

Fucking LiP’s.

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