The extent and effect of equality considerations in the development of UK law and policy in other areas

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Law


In the period following Britain's exit from the EU, the Government will need to consider what Britain's equality framework should look like in a changed political and legal landscape. One difficulty it will encounter is the complicated maze of equality obligations and conventions in this country deriving from domestic and international legal obligations and social/political convention. Unlike countries with a constitutional code, we do not have one clear set of written equality principles and equality is not generally understood to have entrenched or constitutional status. This is despite the fact that equality considerations deriving from law and other sources are taken into account and represent an important guiding principle in the development of many other areas of law and policy. In this way, equality considerations affect the final product of many political and legislative activities in other areas whether explicitly - for example, the health inequalities duty in section 1C of the NHS Act 2006 - or implicitly, in the way the law has been designed.

Against this background, the aim of this research is to investigate precisely what equality considerations are taken into account in practice by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government in their law and policy making activities in other areas, and to what effect. The research findings will contribute to the debate about whether equality protections have entrenched or constitutional status in the UK, and may assist in developing the case for protection of a minimum equality framework in an increasingly unstable and uncertain legal and political context in which equality rights are likely to suffer and the existing equality law framework is very likely to be substantially revised.

My methodology involves primary research in the form of interviews with members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government (across the nations and regions of the UK), chosen for their understanding of law and policy in a wide range of sectors, about what equality considerations they take into account when they develop law and policy in other areas, and to what effect. I will also consider existing sources of such information (Government white papers; Hansard; Court judgments).

Together, these three branches of government propose and create most of Britain's law and policy. If all three branches take equality considerations seriously, then much of the legislation, common law and policy of the UK is likely to have been created taking equality considerations into account, which is likely to have affected its form and substance whether or not equality is specifically mentioned.


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Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
1917961 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 23/06/2024 Sarah Elizabeth Court-Brown