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Ringside at the Supreme Court

Ringside at the Supreme Court

Supreme Court London

Prospect’s case challenging pay discrimination was heard in the Supreme Court on 14 and 15 November. I was delighted to be able to attend some of the hearing. Prospect member Mohammad Naeem works as a chaplain for the Prison Service and his case is challenging inequality in pay on the grounds of religion and race.

I attended on the second day. My day started off with meeting Mohammad outside the Supreme Court, where he filled me in on his lengthy struggle and chatted about his family. Prospect presented a claim to the tribunal in 2011 and the case has now reached the Supreme Court. He said how grateful he was to Prospect for supporting him.

We checked in through security and went up to our designated court.

We had 30 minutes before the case started so went for a coffee with Mohammad’s legal team – QC Sean Jones, counsel Amy Rogers, Emma Hawksworth from Slater and Gordon solicitors and our head of legal Marion Scovell. We had a good old chat over coffee!  

At last we went upstairs to the courtroom, where Lady Hale and four Lords entered. I was surprised how informal it was. Unlike the Court of Appeal there were no wigs and gowns and the courtroom was bright and modern.

Day two started off with the final parts of the submission on the other case that was joined with Mohammad’s (Essop & others v the Home Office). I was struck by the grilling from the judges and how barristers have to think on their feet.

Karen Monaghan, the QC for Mr Essop, really commanded attention. It was as though she were fighting her own personal battle, she was so passionate.

The court then moved on to Mohammad’s case. Our QC presented the case with equal passion and he had such a nice, relaxed style. The legal case is really complex but it was presented clearly and compellingly.  

I found the whole affair fascinating. I hardly moved in my seat in the front row, which can be corroborated by the live filming on the Supreme Court website!

All the lever arch files and the knowledge of the barristers and judges are beyond belief. Every time one of the judges raised a question there was hardly a breath before the barristers answered.

The court is open to the public (and has a TripAdvisor rating!) so there was a fair bit of noise, with students and the public coming and going. I thought it would disturb the proceedings but speaking with the QC later, he said they are so focused they don’t hear anything in the background.

The only disappointment was that we have to wait until the New Year for the judgment.

You can watch the proceedings on Supreme Court “catch up”.

Helen Hall

Helen Hall


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