On six previous occasions, the House of Lords has deliberated on whether a benign motive can negate liability for direct discrimination or victimisation. With the JFS case, the Supreme Court has added a seventh, and despite nine speeches and a five-four split, this case brings us a step closer to some coherent guidance on the issue. (The six previous cases were R v Birmingham CC ex p EOC [1989] 1 AC 1156, James v Eastleigh BC [1990] 2 AC 751, Nagarajan v LRT [2000] 1 AC 501, Chief Constable of West Yorks v Khan [2001] UKHL 48, Shamoon v Chief Constable of the RUC [2003] ICR 337, St Helens MBC v Derbyshire [2007] ICR 841.)

The case centred on the admissions policy of an Orthodox Jewish school. In addition to the ‘benign motive’ issue, the Supreme Court addressed...

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