On 17 and 18th March 2016, Tarunabh Khaitan and Hugh Collins held an international conference at All Souls College and Wadham College on the theoretical foundations of the law of indirect discrimination.
The rationale and justification for this aspect of discrimination law has always been contested because it permits a finding of unlawful discrimination where an employer, educational institution, landlord, or retailer has used a neutral rule that does not on its face discriminate on any of the protected grounds such as sex, race, or ethnic origin. Indirect discrimination holds such a neutral rule to be unlawful if it has a disproportionate adverse impact on a protected ground and the rule itself cannot be justified as a proportionate means of pursuing a legitimate aim. Speakers at the conference, who came from North America and Europe as well as the UK, tackled the justifiability of this controversial law from a variety of perspectives such as the demands of equality, justice, wrongful conduct and moral luck.
It is expected that the conference papers will be published in a book by Hart Publishing in 2017. Whilst all speakers agreed that this law of indirect discrimination is justifiable, there was in fact not much agreement on the appropriate justification and the proper scope of the law. The conference organisers gratefully acknowledge material and final support for the conference provided mostly by Wadham College, together with All Souls College, the Faculty of Law, and the University of Oxford.