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Enforcing the Equality Act: the law and the role of the EHRC inquiry


The individual approach to enforcement of equality law is no longer fit for purpose, says the Women and Equalities Committee in the report of its year-long inquiry.

The report argues against relying on the individual approach, dating back to the 60s and 70s, and recommends that this must be replaced by a new approach which provides a sustainable deterrent and tackles institutional and systemic discrimination.

While individuals must still have the right to challenge discrimination in the courts, says the Committee, the system of enforcement should ensure that this is only rarely needed: this will require a fundamental shift in the way that enforcement of the Equality Act is thought about and applied.

The Committee has already made recommendations to improve the enforcement of the Equality Act in specific areas. It now wants to know what more needs to be done to achieve widespread compliance with the Equality Act 2010 for all those with rights under it, including:

  • the processes by which individual cases can be brought under the Equality Act, including the barriers that may prevent claimants from enforcing their rights
  • the role of the EHRC as the enforcement body, including the effectiveness of its duties, powers and policies
  • whether there are other models of enforcement that could achieve more widespread compliance with the rights set out in the Equality Act 2010.