The Effectiveness of the Race and Disability Public Sector Equality Duties as Positive Legal Duties and Legal Accountability Tools


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The modern public sector equality duties (pseds) have been described as positive duties, ground-breaking and transformative. Described in these terms because the pseds partly addressed limitations in anti-discrimination laws by placing designated public bodies, and others exercising public functions, under a legal obligation to proactively consider various equality aims. The duties were introduced in England, Scotland and Wales between 2001 and 2011.
This thesis investigates the Race Equality Duty, the Disability Equality Duty and related provisions in the Public Sector Equality Duty. It provides an interdisciplinary, socio-legal analysis of these pseds by investigating two interrelated research questions: 1) Have the race and disability equality duties been effective positive legal duties and legal public accountability tools? 2) Does Scheingold's theory of the Politics of Rights add to our understanding of the constraints on the potential impact of positive legal duties in advancing equality?
This study makes a unique contribution to the literature by analysing: the justiciability of the pseds and their effectiveness as legal tools to hold public bodies to account; the outcomes of substantive race and disability public sector equality duties (pseds) judicial review judgments; and the significance of the roles played by cause lawyers, community activism and legal empowerment in extending the race and disability pseds' reach and impact. The unique contribution made to the literature is augmented by the inclusion in this thesis of a socio-political analysis of the impact on these pseds of major changes in
the UK's anti-discrimination framework, equality laws and developments in relation to immigration, community cohesion, integration and austerity over the last fifty years
Date of Award7 Oct 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorROBERT CLARKE (Director of Studies) & JOHN MCGARRY (Supervisor)


  • Race Equality Duty
  • Disability Equality Duty

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