The Court gave its judgment on Monday 18 May in a case brought by a group of Irish Travellers and their supporters for discrimination when they were refused entry to the Coronet, a JD Wetherspoon public house in Holloway Road, north London, on the 17th November 2011, following the Traveller Movement’s annual conference close by.
Door staff had been engaged by the then pub manager David Leach due to his concerns following the very recent disturbances at Dale Farm in Essex and previous disorder at the premises in 2005 which followed an Anarchist Book Fair.
Ten of the claims were dismissed by the Court and the Travellers were ordered to pay JD Wetherspoon’s legal costs. Eight claims were successful on the single issue of direct discrimination with all other claims for harassment and aggravated damages dismissed. The Judge found that JD Wetherspoon did not have a discriminatory motive and its door staff did not act in an aggressive or hostile manner.
Tim Martin, Chairman of Wetherspoon said: “Wetherspoon apologises to the eight individuals who were denied entry and for any upset and distress this caused to them.
“It is the first time that a claim of this nature has been brought against the company in the 35 years of its existence.
“In light of the judgment, though we have always been fully committed to operating our premises in a non-discriminatory way, we will undertake a full review of our relevant policies, procedures and training.
“The case was especially difficult, in the light of the grave illness and subsequent death of David Leach, prior to the commencement of the trial.
“The level of costs in the case incurred by the claimants’ lawyers was astronomical and unjustified, in my opinion.
“Even before the trial started, over £700,000 worth of legal costs had been incurred by them.
“I understand that the total costs, if all the claimants had have been successful, would have amounted to over £1million including success fees for the law firm concerned.
“This seems disproportionate for a total claim of less than £30,000. There has now been a change in the law which means lawyers can no longer recover these enhanced success fees in such cases. JD Wetherspoon welcomes this as it will be to the benefit of claimants and defendants in the future and in the interest of justice.”