Compromise Agreements and The Equality Act

Employment Law is a fairly staid and unglamourous area of the law most of the time.  Yes, some of the facts giving rise to disputes can be quite amusing but, in the main, practitioners are bogged down in a mire of statutes, regulations and reported cases. For instance, Laurie Anstis’s blog at Work/Life/Law has just highlighted a major drafting error in s.147(5) (a) of the Equality Act that makes it technically impossible for any solicitor to advise an employee with a compromise agreement settling a claim under the Equality Act.  In Laurie’s words

“a literal interpretation of these provisions leads only to one conclusion – that a lawyer acting for an employee cannot be a “independent adviser” for the purposes of advising on a compromise agreement under the Equality Act.”

The Courts and Tribunals will have to ignore the precise wording of the Act otherwise chaos will ensue.  As Laurie points out, ACAS can hardly be expected to deal with every dispute that involves discrimination under its COT3 procedure that would otherwise have been dealt with by a compromise agreement.

For employment lawyers this is fairly hot stuff but, it has to be said, it doesn’t really get the pulse racing.

However, last week, the blood was stirred by a public spat on Twitter between Darren Newman, respected legal journalist and Duncan Bannatyne (yes, that one).  DB wrote an article in the Daily Mail entitled “What on earth made a Tory-led Government enact Labour’s most lunatic legislation?”.  You may gather that he is not a fan.  Darren Newman replied on Twitter pointing out that Mr Bannatyne’s article was misleading and the Dragon spewed forth fire and brimstone in response.  See here for Darren Newman’s account of what occurred, plus some very good comments on what the Equality Act actually says and here for the exchange itself on Twitter.  The exchange seems to have concluded thus

@MJCarty And to round off a splendid week, DB has actually blocked me! Was it something I said?less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Michael Scutt, Employment Solicitor 

Employment solicitor with Crane and Staples, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Blogger & writer. I like cycling, cricket, football and history.