Racial discrimination claim against pupillage system dismissed

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has rejected a claim that the pupillage system is racially discriminatory to black Africans.

John Iteshi, who completed the bar vocational course in 2007 but failed to secure pupillage, brought the claim against the Bar Council on the grounds that the requirement that all pupillages should be funded was indirectly racially discriminatory.

Iteshi, who was born and educated in Nigeria, made 150 applications for pupillage but received no interviews.

He argued that as a result of the introduction by the Bar Council in 2003 of the rule he had been unable to obtain an unpaid pupillage and he had been indirectly discriminated against.

Dismissing the claim as misconceived, the EAT analysed the background to the “funded pupillages” rule noting that it had been specifically introduced in order to help Black and Minority Ethnic pupils to obtain pupillages.

Furthermore, the EAT held that Iteshi had failed to produce any evidence that the rule in any way affected prospective black African pupils more than others.