Are registered providers public bodies in their capacity as employers?

In an important case which helps clarify some of the uncertainties left behind by the case of Weaver v London & Quadrant Housing Trust, judgment has today been handed down by Manchester County Court in the case of Smith v Trafford Housing Trust.

In these employment-related proceedings, Devonshires, acting for THT, have succeeded in striking out a claim under the Human Rights Act in relation to disciplinary action against an employee.

Applying the Court of Appeal decision in Weaver that registered providers are hybrid public bodies, the Court found that THT’s actions in its capacity as an employer were of a private rather than public nature. The Court found that the act of disciplining the employee, Mr Smith, was not linked to THT’s public functions and related to a wholly private source, namely the employer/employee relationship.

The case is also significant because THT is a stock transfer association whose tenants were previously tenants of a local authority which would have been fully subject to the Human Rights Act.

The decision is an important one as the Court has refused to further extend human rights obligations and also clarifies the law for all registered providers of social housing and care providers in this area.

A copy of the judgement can be seen here.

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