English Legal System vs Inequalities between Individuals and Groups

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26 November 2015

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English Legal System vs Inequalities between Individuals and Groups


Does The English Legal System Do Enough To Address Inequalities Between Individuals And Groups?

       Addressing inequalities are a vital aspect of any government legal system, not only for the economic growth and for the development of the goals such as the millennium goals, but also for security and peace perspective. The legal system of English has not been left aside in the fight against inequalities among its citizens. This is the system of law that has developed in England. Horizontal inequalities have developed and increased among people globally and England has been affected. The inequalities are taken as increasing factor to the risk of violence, conflict, which can in turn worsen the inequalities among people or groups (Haskel & Slaugther, 1999).

       This paper looks into how and what the English Legal System is undertaking in the fight against inequalities among groups of people or individuals. There are increasing concerns about persistent and often rising inequalities. These inequalities includes aspects such as age, pregnancy and maternity, disability; race, gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership, religion or sexual orientation among other grounds where discrimination can occur. All these grounds of inequalities are applicable to both individuals and groups people. However, each and every legal system in different countries is tasked with the fight against any form of inequality among individuals or groups of people in the society. The English Legal system has been as well on the forefront in the fight against the inequality menace among its people (Pontusson, 2005).

       The law has been and continues to be a tool through which essential democratic ideals have been expressed not only in the English legal system but also in other legal systems around the globe. The egalitarian ideals expressed include the same employment chances, equal right of entry into schooling among many other aspects. Simultaneously, the legal system is on its own a site of unusual discrimination, as discovered in different degree of access of first-class legal aid, discrepancy in arrest rates, or disparity in sentencing. The researches within this field attend show how good has the English legal system done to address the issues of inequalities between individuals and groups of people. Hence, law can be used as a mechanism for equalization and in turn can produce or express inequality as well (International Labor Office, 2007).

       Disparity in the legal system, the main question behind the issue of inequality is whether the law is applied fairly to all members of any group? Courts appointed attorneys providing a sufficient protection for their needy clients? Is the death judgment more likely to be forced on African Americans than on whites? Who bears the brunt of the notable increase in the detention rate? When the prisoners re released from the jails, do their potential employers discriminate against them this creating an even larger underclass? In addition, how has the increase in the number of privatized prisons affected how captives are handled? How has it altered the political process (e.g. Entrance by the prison industry) that manages how large our imprisoned residents will be? Discrimination could be integrated as a concern into goals and targets on different sectoral/thematic issues such as (politics, security, justice, poverty, education and health), through speech stressing addition, fairness, accountability and responsiveness to all social groups throughout the framework is essential in the English legal system (Witte & Green, 2012).

       There is numerous discrimination by type that is experienced amongst people in the United Kingdom. These include: age, disability, equal pay or compensation, religion, retaliation, sex and sexual harassment, genetic information, harassment, national origin, pregnancy, race/color,. One of the major areas of concern in the English legal system is the issue of inequality among the disabled people in the community. Not only in the United Kingdom, there has been a unison call from all the corners of the world from the people and groups of people for the disabled people to be respected in the society just like the normal individuals in the community. There have been campaigns all over the globe fighting for the rights of the disabled people. This has been dubbed as disability discrimination, which has resulted in inequality between different people in the society. According to Equality Act 2010, disability discrimination is when a disabled person is treated less favorably than a non-disabled person, and is treated in this way for a reason arising from their disability, and the treatment cannot be justified (Keister et all, 2012).

       The fight against disability discrimination, in the United Kingdom has been defined by numerous acts in the English legal system. These include ‘The Equality Act 2010’ this provides disabled people with protection from discrimination in the workplace. England and Wales have had laws against, against discrimination since the 1960’s. For example, the Race Relations Acts of 1965, 1968 as well as that of 1976, all of which outlawed race inequity among groups of people or individually. In addition, there is also the 1970 Equal Pay Act and the ‘Sex Discrimination Act’ of 1975 which themselves proscribed discrimination in the line of gender. Moreover, there was the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which outlawed disability discrimination. Putting all of these acts together, in the year 2010, all, the anti-discrimination laws were confined together under one Act, namely the Equality Act 2010 (Chant, 2010).

       The English Legal System comprises one of the greatest tools for people with disabilities, in order to ensure and also protect their fundamental rights. According to the ‘Equality Act 2010’ section 6 disability is defined as a ‘person who have an impairment either physically or mentally, however, the impairment should have substantial adverse as well as the lasting effects on their capability to perform their normal daily activities’. Under the act, there is direct disability discrimination as well as indirect form of discrimination. Section 15 of the Equality Act forbids the unfavorable treatment of a disabled person where the reason for the unfavorable treatment is not the disability itself, but something that comes up as a result of the disability (Partington, 2014).

       Despite the wide and all inclusive act in the fight against disability inequality in the United Kingdom, there have been numerous cases reported of disability inequality among people, more so in the private sector of employment. The government has, however, embarked on the massive implementation of disability discrimination laws. Some of the achievements that have been beneficial to the fight against disability inequality in the United Kingdom are the implementation of the required facilities for the disabled in order for them to access services. This includes laws in building and constructions, whereby public buildings should be accessible to the disabled; this is through revision of the relevant facilities and services such as no stairs, washrooms for the disables among others. In addition, an important issue for some disabled people is the provision of adaptations of dwellings to improve safety, mobility and quality of life. Effective adaptations can lead to reduced pain and enhanced well being, self-esteem and control. Hence it can be said that the English legal system has done quite a lot in the fight against inequality among the disabled people or groups and in turn more should be implemented in terms law, implementation for the complete acceptance of the disabled people. The most affected sector where inequality is most felt is through employment (Fafinski & Finch, 2008).

       Another aspect that has given rise to inequality is the United Kingdom is the religious identification or differing peoples beliefs. According to human rights and anti-discrimination legislation in the UK, every person has the right to hold their own beliefs as well as any other philosophical beliefs that are similar to religion or beliefs. Under the Equality Act 2006, it is or prohibited or illegal for someone to differentiate or discriminate against another person or a group of people because of their religion or belief or else for the reason that, they have no religion or belief (Elliott, 2012).

       There has been a case of religious discrimination in the United Kingdom, especially the issue of Britain’s divided schools that has been a disturbing portrait of inequality. With the increased differences between the Middle East countries and the western especially between the Muslims and other religions groups. In many cases, there has been a correlation between the increasing trend in terrorism and the Muslim religion. This has resulted in the inequality between the Arabs/Muslims in the UK and other people especially whites. Advance in achieving liberty of religion or belief and thwarting inequity based on religion or belief in the place of work and in public services has been widely advocated in the United Kingdom. Equally, the capability to draw conclusion continues to be stalled by Government’s reluctance to distinguish between the various Christian denominations, when recording people’s religious profession, either in the population census or the Labor Force Survey (Boaler, 2011).

       Generally, the act on equality, human rights and religion or belief has been interpreted watchfully in domestic tribunals and courts as according to section 5.3 of the equality act. While some indirect inequity claims relating to dress codes and working hours have been successful, most claims based on religion have failed. This is largely because courts have mostly found that intrusion with the autonomy of belief or religion under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is not easily recognized. Over the years, religious conviction has played a less leading role in public culture. Temporarily, the rival status hierarchies have fallen away. The meritocratic ladder of specialized success is pretty much the only one left standing. We can see a correlation between inequality and religious faith (Warren, 2006).

       The presence of religious diversity in today’s times in the United Kingdom has resulted in increased contact between religious, which has sometimes revealed deep-rooted stereotyping and prejudice, which in turn leads to tension and sometimes conflict between individuals or groups of people in the community. Indeed, religion is an indispensable component in the identity of some of the groups that make up our society, however, it has also been connected with stereotypes or depressing preconception, including the assumption of a so-called ‘clash of civilizations. Political events and popular discourse have repeatedly been revealed in the media and have negatively linked terrorism and Islam. This has in turn prejudiced social attitudes and led to a Renaissance of religious and racial discrimination in the community and most public places. A latest information on the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) found that Muslims are often fatalities of inequity, negative stereotyping and of manifestations of prejudice and hatred. These take the form of verbal threats and physical attacks on people and property and racial and mostly religion affiliation profiling (Oliva, 2008).

       The growing visibility of religious and belief variety in Europe and especially United Kingdom has been depicted by an increase in unfairness, inequity, and prejudice against religious and ethnic minorities. While a great deal of development has been achieved, biasness on grounds of racial or ethnic origin and religion is still a problem for many people in our societies, even though this is tricky to accurately measure due to short of data on the religious composition of the inhabitants of the UK, mainly in regard to minority religions. The English Legal system has created a structure of legal tools, policies, and initiatives for fighting religious and racial unfairness and in turn promoting fairness. Nevertheless, it could be argued that the principles of equality and non-discrimination and the respect for the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion have not been fully implemented in all Member States (Lansley, 2012).

       Despite the tremendous effort by the government and the vast established English legal law, there are still cases of religion inequality and discrimination within individuals and the UK citizens towards either an individual or a specific group or community. People affiliated to religious minorities, especially migrants; also, experiences disproportionately lower incomes and higher rates of unemployment, as they face problems accessing housing and in turn living in poor environs. They suffer from prejudice and experience exclusion or marginalization in social, political, and economic activity and from unfair treatment in public or social services (Blanden & Machin, 2013).

       The enactment of the Equality act 2010 in United Kingdom has redefined people’s rights regardless of their religion affiliation. The introduction of the law has targeted all people in the country, and in turn offering the right protection to people. In addition, the human rights movements have been active in fight for the people’s rights and in turn bringing along equality among the countries populace. English Legal system has been deemed as one of the all-inclusive legal system and has been a positive aspect in the fight for equality among the United Kingdom citizens. The ‘Equality Act 2010’ has been drawn-up to deal with inequality and also prevent prejudice against all sorts of people on the basis of ‘protected characteristics’. It brings together several presented laws and aims to make understanding the law simpler. It also introduces a new single public sector equality duty, which requires public bodies to actively advance equality. This has enabled the UK government to be able to handle the numerous issues of inequality in the society. In accordance to the question posed ‘whether the ‘English Legal System’ is doing enough to address Inequalities between Individuals and Groups, the answer is YES. Although there has been numerous handles in the full achievement of equality, the government has been able to implement laws that has been effective in curbing inequality. Moreover, the legal system has developed an effective criminal justice system which has enabled in the fight against inequality (Keister et al, 2012).

       In conclusion, there are many experiences that remain invisible and ignored within the wider agendas in the fight against inequalities within the English legal system. While the inequalities are widespread and all-encompassing, the legal systems have tried to be all inclusive in solving all forms of inequalities that are experienced within the individuals, and groups in the society. It is clear that there can be an experience of far-reaching inequality, prejudice, favoritism and racism from politicians, the media, and the public. However, numerous recommendations have been made in different chapters for the introduction of ethnic monitoring, for example in health, social work, substance use services and criminal justice. In many of these domains, existing equality and human rights law provides the framework for addressing these injustices, but it needs to be proactively and effectively implemented.


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