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You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> United Kingdom House of Lords Decisions >> Garland v British Rail Engineering Ltd (No 2) [1982] UKHL 2 (22 April 1982)
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Cite as: [1982] UKHL 2, [1983] 2 AC 751, [1982] ICR 420, [1982] 2 WLR 918

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JISCBAILII_CASE_CONSTITUTIONAL
JISCBAILII_CASE_EMPLOYMENT

    Parliamentary Archives,
    HL/PO/JU/18/2412

    Die Jovis 22° Aprilis 1982

    Upon Report from the Appellate Committee to whom
    was referred the Cause Garland against British Rail
    Engineering Limited, That the Committee had heard
    Counsel on Wednesday the 26th day of November
    1980 upon the Petition and Appeal of Eileen Mary
    Garland of 49 Shepperton Close, Castlethorpe, Milton
    Keynes praying that the matter of the Order set forth
    in the Schedule thereto, namely an Order of Her
    Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 4th day of April
    1979 might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen
    in Her Court of Parliament and that the said Order
    might be reversed, varied or altered or that the
    Petitioner might have such other relief in the premises
    as to Her Majesty the Queen in Her Court of Parliament
    might seem meet; as also upon the Case of British
    Rail Engineering Limited lodged in answer to the said
    Appeal which said Appeal was, by an Order of this
    House of the 19th day of January 1981, referred to
    the Court of Justice of the European Communities
    for a preliminary ruling under Article 177 of the Treaty
    establishing the European Economic Community; and
    due consideration had this day of what was offered on
    either side in this Cause:

    It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual
    and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her
    Majesty the Queen assembled, That the said Order
    of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 4th day of
    April 1979 complained of in the said Appeal be, and
    the same is hereby, Reversed and that the Order of
    the Employment Appeal Tribunal of the 16th day of
    November 1977 be, and the same is hereby, Restored:
    And it is further Ordered, That the Respondents do
    pay or cause to be paid to the said Appellant the Costs
    incurred by her in the Courts below and also the Costs
    incurred by her in respect of the said Appeal to this
    House, the amount of such last-mentioned Costs to be
    certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments if not agreed
    between the parties: And it is also further Ordered,
    That the Cause be, and the same is hereby, remitted
    back to the Employment Appeal Tribunal to do therein
    as shall be just and consistent with this Judgment.


    HOUSE OF LORDS

    GARLAND (APPELLANT)

    v.

    BRITISH RAIL ENGINEERING LIMITED (RESPONDENTS)

    Lord Diplock
    Lord Edmund-Davies

    Lord Fraser of Tullybelton
    Lord Russell of Killowen
    Lord Scarman


    Lord Diplock

    my lords,

    The facts which give rise to this appeal are sufficiently stated in the
    four explanatory paragraphs incorporated in a reference to the European
    Court of Justice, made by this House under Article 177 of the E.E.C.
    Treaty, of questions concerning the interpretation of Article 129 of that
    Treaty and of two directives made by the Council of Ministers. The
    reference was in the following terms :

    1. Mrs. Eileen Mary Garland is a married woman employed by the
      Respondents, British Rail Engineering Limited (" BREL "). The whole
      of the shareholding in BREL is held by the British Railways Board which
      is a public authority charged by statute with the duty of providing
      railway services in Great Britain.

    2. All employees of BREL enjoy certain valuable concessionary travel
      facilities during the period of their employment. These facilities entitle
      each employee, regardless of sex to travel free or at a reduced rate on
      British Rail and certain foreign railways. Such facilities are extended
      not only to the employee, but to his or her spouse and dependent
      children.

    3. After employees of BREL retire from their employment on
      reaching retiring age (which is earlier for women than for men) there
      is a difference in their treatment depending on their sex. In the case of
      former male employees, they continue to be granted (though on a
      reduced scale) travel facilities for themselves, their wives and dependent
      children. In the case of former female employees, they receive (on a
      similarly reduced scale) travel facilities for themselves, but no such
      facilities are granted in respect of their husbands or dependent children.
      These facilities are not enjoyed by former employees as a matter of
      contractual right, but employees have a legitimate expectation that they

    will enjoy them after retirement and it would be difficult in practice for
    BREL to withdraw them unilaterally without the agreement of the trade
    unions of which their employees are members.

    4. On 25 November 1976 Mrs. Garland complained to an industrial
    tribunal that BREL were discriminating against her contrary to the
    provisions of a United Kingdom Act of Parliament, the Sex
    Discrimination Act 1975 (" the Act "). Her complaint after consideration
    also by two intermediate appellate courts ([1978] I.C.R. 495 (Employment
    Appeal Tribunal), [1979] I.C.R. 558 (Court of Appeal)) has now reached
    the House of Lords which is a court against whose decision there is no
    judicial remedy under United Kingdom law.

    5. In order to enable it to give judgment on the appeal, this House
    considers that a decision is necessary on the following questions:

    "1. Where an employer provides (although not bound to do so by
    "contract) special travel facilities for former employees to enjoy after
    " retirement which discriminate against former female employees in
    "the manner described above, is this contrary to:-
    " (a) Article 119 of the E.E.C. Treaty?
    " (b) Article 1 of Council Directive 75/117/EEC?
    " (c) Article 1 of Council Directive 76/207/EEC?


    2

    " 2. If the answer to questions 1(a), 1(b) or 1(c) is affirmative, is
    " Article 119 or either of the directives directly applicable in Member
    " States so as to confer enforceable Community rights upon individuals
    " in the above circumstances? "

    Before it reached this House, Mrs. Garland's claim had been dealt with
    in an industrial court, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of
    Appeal upon the footing that it turned upon the true construction of section
    6(4) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, but without any consideration
    being given to the fact that equal pay without discrimination on the grounds
    of sex is required by Article 119 of the E.E.C. Treaty and that the application
    of this Article had also been the subject of directives made by the Council
    of the E.E.C. under Article 189 of the Treaty. Furthermore, after the
    passing of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the European Court of Justice
    had held in Defrenne v. Sabena [1976] ECR 455 that Article 119 was
    directly applicable in Member States, without the necessity of any further
    act by any institution of the Community or legislative action by a Member
    State, to make unlawful any discrimination between men and women in
    the amount of compensation receivable by them for equal work performed
    in the same establishment whether private or public.

    Section 6 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 appears in Part II of the
    Act which bears the general heading " Discrimination in the Employment
    " Field" and is the first of a fasciculus of five sections under the
    sub-heading " Discrimination by employers ". For present purposes it is
    sufficient to set out the following provisions of section 6: —

    " 6.—(1) It is unlawful for a person, in relation to employment by
    " him at an establishment in Great Britain, to discriminate against a
    " woman—

    " (a) in the arrangements he makes for the purpose of determining
    " who should be offered that employment, or

    " (b) in the terms on which he offers her that employment, or

    " (c) by refusing or deliberately omitting to offer her that employment.

    " (2) It is unlawful for a person, in the case of a woman employed by
    " him at an establishment in Great Britain, to discriminate against her—

    " (a) in the way he affords her access to opportunities for promotion,
    " transfer or training, or to any other benefits, facilities or
    " services, or by refusing or deliberately omitting to afford her
    " access to them, or

    " (b) by dismissing her, or subjecting her to any other detriment.

    " . . . . .

    " (4) Subsections 1 (b) and (2) do not apply to provision in relation
    " to death or retirement."

    The Industrial Tribunal was of opinion that concessionary travel facilities
    afforded to ex-employees after their retirement fell within subsection (4);
    they were " provision in relation to ... retirement" and so were not
    subject to the prohibition on discrimination imposed by subsection (1)(b) or
    (2)(a). The Employment Appeal Tribunal took the contrary view. They
    considered that the words of the exception created by subsection (4) ought not to be construed so widely as to include
    " a privilege [that] has existed during employment " and is allowed by the
    employer " to continue after retirement." The Court of Appeal (Lord
    Denning M.R. Lawton and Geoffrey Lane, L.JJ) restored the decision of the
    Industrial Tribunal. Lawton L.J. described the question of construction
    of subsection (4) as being " largely a matter of first impression ". His own
    first impression, which was shared and adopted by the Master of the Rolls,
    was that " provision in relation to ... retirement" was a wide expression
    and included any provision about retirement.

    In neither the Employment Appeal Tribunal nor the Court of Appeal was
    attention drawn by counsel, as it should have been, to Article 119 of the
    E.E.C. Treaty or to either of the two directives dealing with sex discrimina-

    3

    tion, No.75/117 of 10 February 1975 and No. 76/207 of 9 February 1976;
    although in the light of the answers given by the European Court of Justice
    to the questions referred by this House, reference to Article 119 is sufficient
    to dispose of the matter and reliance upon neither of these directives has
    turned out to be necessary.

    The relevant provisions of Article 119 are:-

    " Each Member State shall during the first stage ensure and subse-
    " quently maintain the application of the principle that men and women
    " should receive equal pay for equal work.

    " For the purpose of this Article, ' pay' means the ordinary basic
    " or minimum wage or salary and any other consideration, whether in
    " cash or in kind, which the worker receives, directly or indirectly, in
    " respect of his employment from his employer."

    My Lords, even if the obligation to observe the provisions of Article 119
    were an obligation assumed by the United Kingdom under an ordinary
    international treaty or convention and there were no question of the treaty
    obligation being directly applicable as part of the law to be applied by the
    courts in this country without need for any further enactment, it is a principle
    of construction of United Kingdom statutes, now too well established to
    call for citation of authority, that the words of a statute passed after the
    Treaty has been signed and dealing with the subject-matter of the international
    obligation of the United Kingdom, are to be construed, if they are reasonably
    capable of bearing such a meaning, as intended to carry out the obligation
    and not to be inconsistent with it. A fortiori is this the case where the
    Treaty obligation arises under one of the Community Treaties to which
    section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 applies.

    The instant appeal does not present an appropriate occasion to consider
    whether, having regard to the express direction as to the construction of
    enactments " to be passed " which is contained in section 2(4), anything
    short of an express positive statement in an act of parliament passed after
    1 January 1973 that a particular provision is intended to be made in breach
    of an obligation assumed by the United Kingdom under a Community
    Treaty, would justify an English court in construing that provision in a
    manner inconsistent with a Community Treaty obligation of the United
    Kingdom however wide a departure from the prima facie meaning of the
    language of the provision might be needed in order to achieve consistency.
    For, in the instant case the words of section 6(4) of the Sex Discrimination
    Act 1975 that fall to be construed, "provision in relation to ... retire-
    " ment ", without any undue straining of the ordinary meaning of the
    language used, are capable of bearing either the narrow meaning accepted by
    the Employment Appeal Tribunal or the wider meaning preferred by the
    Court of Appeal but acknowledged by that court to be largely a matter
    of first impression. Had the attention of the court been drawn to Article
    119 of the E.E.C. Treaty and the judgment of the European Court
    of Justice in Defrenne v. Sabena, I have no doubt that, consistently with
    statements made by the Master of the Rolls in previous cases, they would
    have construed section 6(4) so as not to make it inconsistent with Article 119.

    In order to decide whether the construction of section 6(4) in fact adopted
    by we Court of Appeal was inconsistent with Article 119, and whether that
    alternative construction adopted by the Employment Appeal Tribunal was
    consistent with it, it was desirable to obtain a ruling of the European Court
    Justice that would be binding upon all courts in England, including this
    House, upon the question of the effect of Article 119 on the kind of
    discrimination as respects concessionary travel facilities after retirement to
    which Mrs. Garland was subjected by her employers simply because she
    was a woman and not a man.

    Although I do not believe that any of your Lordships had any serious
    doubt as to what answer would be given to that question by the European
    Court, there was not in existence at the date. 19 January 1981 when the
    order of reference under Article 177 was made, so considerable and

    4

    consistent a line of case law of the European Court of Justice on the
    interpretation and direct applicability of Article 119, as would make the
    answer too obvious and inevitable to be capable of giving rise to what
    could properly be regarded as " a question " within the meaning of Article
    177. It thus became mandatory on this House, as a court from whose
    decisions there is no possibility of appeal under internal law, to refer to the
    European Court of Justice the questions that were in fact referred by the
    order that I have quoted at the beginning of this speech, so as to provide
    the House with material necessary to aid it in construing section 6(4) of the
    Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

    To those questions the answers given by the European Court are:

    " THE COURT

    " hereby rules: —

    " 1. Where an employer (although not bound to do so by contract)
    " provides special travel facilities for former male employees to enjoy
    " after their retirement this constitutes discrimination within the meaning
    " of Article 119 against former female employees who do not receive
    " the same facilities.

    " 2. Where a national court is able, using the criteria of equal
    " work and equal pay, without the operation of Community or national
    " measures, to establish that the grant of special travel facilities solely
    " to retired male employees represents discrimination based on difference
    " of sex, the provisions of Article 119 of the Treaty apply directly to
    " such a situation."

    As is rightly conceded by the respondent employers, British Railway
    Engineering Ltd., these answers make it clear that the construction put upon
    section 6(4) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 by the Employment Appeal
    Tribunal was correct, with the result that the appeal must be allowed.

    Lord Edmund-Davies

    my lords,

    I have had the privilege of reading in draft the speech of my noble and
    learned friend, Lord Diplock, with which I concur.

    Lord Fraser of Tullybelton

    my lords,
    I concur.

    Lord Russell of Killowen

    my lords.
    I concur.

    Lord Scarman

    my lords,
    I concur.

    140159—2 Dd 8209971 C3 4/82




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