Case Number: DEC-S2012-010- Full Case Report. Equality Tribunal

Docket NumberDEC-S2012-010- Full Case Report
Date01 March 2012
CourtEquality Tribunal
The Equality Tribunal

Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011

Decision Number
DEC-S2012-010

Parties

Derek Brennan and others
(Represented by the Equality Authority, Irish Taxi Driver's Federation, SIPTU, National Taxi Drivers Union and Tiomanai tacsai na heireann)

V


Area Development Management Limited -
Taxi Hardship Payments Scheme
now POBAL
(Represented by Mr. Paul McGarry SC and Mr. Declan Murphy BL on the instructions of the Chief State Solicitor's Office)

Case refs: ES/2004/0205, 0215, 0223,
ES/2005/0021, 0031, 0035, 0037, 0041, 0059, 0068, 0206, 0231, 0244, 0531, 0675, 0689, and 0934
Issued: 21 March 2012

Keywords:
Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004- Discrimination - Age - Provision of good and services - Jurisdiction - Circuit Court Appeal pursuant to section 22(1)

1. Delegation under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008

1.1. Messrs Derek Doran, Gerard O'Reilly, Anthony O'Rourke, David McGrath, Francis Rowan, James McGuire, Derek Brennan and others see appendix 1 (hereafter "the complainants") referred claims to the Director of the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Acts on various dates between October 2004 and November 2005. I am satisfied that the respondent was notified of these complaints in accordance with the Acts. The Director, exercising her powers under the Acts then delegated the case to me, Tara Coogan, an Equality Officer, for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director under part III of the Equal Status Acts on 5 December 2008.


1.2.
An oral hearing, which exceptionally dealt with a preliminary matter only, was held in Dublin on 26 July 2011. In the interest of efficient administration of justice - the jurisdictional matter applied to each case - the complainants were invited to a joint hearing dealing with the preliminary matter only.

2. Dispute

2.1. The dispute before this Tribunal concerns complaints of unlawful discrimination on the age ground. The complainants submitted that Area Development Management Limited now POBAL ("the respondent") discriminated against them in the manner in which the taxi hardship scheme was administered. The substantive facts vary in relation to the individual complaints. This decision is concerned with whether this Tribunal has jurisdiction to proceed with its investigation into the above complaints.

3. Background to the complaints

3.1. The Taxi Hardschip Scheme was established in response to the liberalisation of the Taxi industry on 21 November 2000. The aim of the scheme was to address some difficulties which related to the new taxi regime for some existing taxi license holders.


3.2.
A number of complainants referred claims to this Tribunal in late 2004 and throughout 2005. Each of these cases was taken on the age ground [some cases referred to other grounds also] and is concerned with the manner in which the complainant's age was a contributing factor in the manner in which the respondent had excluded them from Taxi Hardship Payment Scheme.


3.3.
A Circuit Court decision in Hoey v Area Development Management Limited DEC-S2008-010 issued on 31 January 2008. The decision was in favour of the complainant. The respondent exercised their right to an appeal pursuant to section 22(1). A decision to await the outcome of said appeal was taken. An attempt to schedule the remaining cases was taken in 2009 but a number of the complainants requested that the matter be put on hold while the appeal was pending.


3.4.
Learned Judge Reynolds issued her judgment in the Circuit Court on the appeal on 14 April 2011. The judge found that the Tribunal erred in allowing Mr. Hoey's complaint against the respondent to proceed. Her reasoning was that the respondent was merely administering the scheme in accordance with the criteria established by the Executive. The judge found that for the respondent to have done otherwise would have been ultra vires its powers and unlawful. Furthermore, she was of the view that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain Mr. Hoey's complaint as by doing so the Tribunal was purporting to review a decision of Government, thus acting ultra vires of its powers conferred by the Equal Status Acts.


3.5.
I wrote to each of the complainants informing them of the outcome of the appeal. A few complainants withdrew their cases but the reminder indicated that they now wished to have their cases heard in accordance with the Acts. A schedule for hearings was prepared in accordance with the Acts. The respondent objected to this approach arguing that it ought to be provided with an opportunity to address a preliminary matter applying to all the complaints in a more efficient manner. A decision to hold a preliminary hearing only with all the complainants in attendance was made.

4. Preliminary matter concerning...

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