Kassie Smith in Supreme Court in X v Mid Sussex CAB

01 Nov 2012

On 30 and 31 October 2012, the Supreme Court heard the appeal in the case of X v Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau and others.  Kassie Smith appeared for the Secretary of State before the Supreme Court.

The Court considered the following issues: (1) Whether the Framework Directive (Directive 2000/78/EC Establishing a Framework for Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation) applies to volunteers? (2) If it does, whether its provisions can receive direct effect in domestic law between private parties?

The Appellant worked as a volunteer adviser at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (“CAB”). She was not contractually bound to work and received no remuneration for doing so. Although volunteers often do go on to become employed by the CAB as paid advisers, this is not automatic. There is an open, external recruitment process for paid posts and volunteering arrangements were not for the purpose of determining to whom employment should be offered. The Appellant alleges that, after she informed the CAB that she was HIV positive, she was told that she could not return to work. She claims disability discrimination. As a preliminary issue, the Employment Tribunal determined that the Appellant was not within the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act’s definition of “employment”, because it did not cover voluntary work. The Appellant’s appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, where argument focused more on the terms of the EC Framework Directive, were unsuccessful.

The judgment of the Supreme Court was reserved and will be handed down in due course.