2007 was dominated by cases emerging from the local authority equal pay litigation in the North East, masterminded by Stefan Cross, otherwise known (with a nod to the famous description of Helen of Troy) as the face that launched a thousand claims. Ironically, the opportunity for much of this litigation was generated by the government-inspired programme of modernising local authorities' antiquated pay structures.
There is still much to play for, but one important principle seems to have been established: job evaluation schemes (JES) do not have retrospective effect. In Bainbridge No 2 the EAT decided that the mere fact that a job had been upgraded as part of a JES did not mean that claimants would automatically succeed with claims for periods of employment prior to the date the JES had been implemented. On the other hand the impact of pay protection schemes, commonly introduced to cushion the effect of a JES, still lies in the balance. The EAT has reached different conclusions on whether the disparate impact of such schemes on women can be justified, and both these cases (Bainbridge No 1 and Surtees) will be considered by the Court of Appeal in 2008.