Parr v MSR Partners LLP & Ors [2022] EWCA Civ 24

Appeal against an EAT finding that the Respondents' acts complained of did not amount to "conduct extending over a period" within the terms of s 123(3)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 and that the claim had therefore been brought out of time. Appeal dismissed.

When the Claimant reached the age of 60 (his normal retirement date) he was given the option of remaining with the Respondent but as an ordinary partner not an equity partner. He accepted this arrangement but a year later, the Respondent sold off part of the business which meant the Claimant lost out on about £3m which he would have had if he had remained as an equity partner. He claimed age discrimination at the ET. The ET concluded that in this case there was a rule, contained in the Members' Agreement, that the member shall retire on the accounts date next following his 60th birthday. In common with Seldon, it had provision for discretionary relief, which was not granted and as a result the Claimant was demoted to fixed share partner. The ET found that whilst this rule continued, it was a continuing act and a continuing state of affairs which resulted in less favourable treatment because the Claimant had reached the age of 60. The Respondent appealed to the EAT who overturned that ET decision saying that there was no "conduct extending over a period" in respect of the complaint raised in this case, beyond the date at which the De-Equitisation Agreement took effect, for the purpose of section 123 of the Equality Act. What occurred was a one-off act which after 30th April 2018 fundamentally and permanently changed the nature of the relationship between the Claimant and the Respondent. That is properly to be considered an act which had continuing consequences, rather than conduct which extended over a period. The Claimant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. There is no dispute, and the ET found, that had the Claimant's membership of the LLP simply been terminated on 30 April 2018, time would have run from that date; and that a dismissal, even if discriminatory, is a one-off act with continuing consequences rather than conduct extending over a period, even though the dismissed employee may suffer loss of pay and pension for the rest of his or her life. There is no logical reason why a demotion should be treated differently, just because the Claimant and the Respondents remained in a contractual relationship.

Published: 17/01/2022 11:21

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