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Changes to UK legislation

Race Directive

By 19 July 2003, the laws in the UK must comply with the directive. Although UK race relations law provided a partial model for the Race Directive: the Race Relations Act and the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order must be amended to bring them in line with the directive. This will require primary legislation not later than the 2002-2003 parliamentary session. Before introducing a bill for this purpose the Government is likely to set out its proposals in a consultation document.

Possible changes to existing race relations legislation to comply with the Race Directive include:

  • incorporate the new, wider definition of indirect discrimination — which is similar to the definition which the CRE proposed in its proposals for reform of the Race Relations Act

  • incorporate the shift in the burden of proof once a prima facie case is established — the CRE has already recommended this in its proposals for reform of the Act

  • provide protection in areas within the scope of the directive that are not covered by the present Act, for example access to self-employment or occupation, and the full ambit of 'social protection' and 'social advantages' — the extended scope of the Act in relation to public functions since 2 April 2001, when the Race Relations (Amendment) Act came into force, may be sufficient to incorporate social protection and, possibly, social advantages

  • remove any exceptions that are not permitted in the directive, or define more restrictively the exceptions which in the directives are permitted in very limited, specific circumstances only; for example the exception for genuine occupational qualification in UK laws must be much tighter

  • permit organisations to bring proceedings on behalf of individual complainants — in England and Wales the Lord Chancellor’s Department is consulting on proposals for representative actions generally, not only in discrimination cases

  • ensure that sanctions for unlawful discrimination that are available to courts and tribunals are 'effective, proportional and dissuasive'

  • abolish laws and regulations that are contrary to the principle of equal treatment, and declare as null and void any provisions contrary to this principle in individual or collective contracts, internal rules for public and private organisations, and rules of trade unions and professional organisations

From no later than 19 July 2003, there are other changes that should be implemented which do not require changes to the law. For example, access to information, and working with employers and employees to promote equal treatment in the workplace.


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With its popcorn stand and a street trader outside Little Indian is, as they claim, a home away from home for many Indians more pictures...


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