Employment Law | Poundland Case In Supreme Court

Yesterday (July 29) the Supreme Court considered the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which unanimously held that the Regulations under which most of the Government’s “Back to Work” schemes were created were unlawful and had to be quashed.

Job seeker Cait Reilly, who was made to work in Poundland for three weeks unpaid, brought the case originally, along with unemployed lorry driver Jamieson Wilson, who refused to work for free for six months, so was stripped of his Jobseekers’ allowance.

They argued that requiring them to work without pay or benefits had been unlawful and in February were backed by the Court of Appeal, thereby potentially opening the way for an estimated £130m repayment to around 230,000 sanctioned job seekers.

However, in March, the Jobseekers (Back to Work Act) 2013 was rushed through Parliament in just three days with the explicit intent of overturning the Court of Appeal’s ruling and to “protect the national economy” from the multi-million pound payout.

Lawyers representing the original clients then initiated a second court action to judicially review the retrospective law, saying that it undermines its clients’ right to justice and represents a clear violation of article 6 of the European convention on human rights.

Interestingly, because the Jobseekers’ Act is now law, it makes the Government’s appeal to the Supreme Court academic, as the law has been changed since the Court of Appeal judgement.

However, the Supreme Court also considered the original clients’ cross appeal, in which their lawyers argued that the DWP is under an obligation to publish clear and accessible information about these schemes for jobseekers so that they can understand what the schemes are and what can be lawfully required from them.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London