29 July 2008
Summary of case
The case concerned Southall Black Sisters, an organisation that provided services to Asian and Afro-Caribbean women particularly in relation to domestic violence. They received substantial funding from Ealing Council. They were awarded funding for 2007 & 2008. The Council decided in 2007 that it would in future encourage open competition by commissioning services according to agreed criteria. These included that services should be provided to ‘all individuals irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, race, faith, age, disability, resident within the Borough of Ealing experiencing domestic violence’. This requirement meant that they would no longer be able to limit their services to Asian and Afro-Caribbean women. They sought a judicial review of this requirement.
This requirement was contrary to the Race Equality Duty as the Council had failed to assess the impact that its policy would have on ethnic minority women. The Court concluded that ‘Cohesion is achieved by overcoming barriers. That may require the needs of ethnic minorities to be met in a particular and focussed way…specialist services for a racial minority from a specialist source is anti-discriminatory and furthers the objectives of equality and cohesion’. The decision would be quashed.