This afternoon the House of Lords handed down its opinion in Preston v Wolverhampton HA (see bulletins 16/5/00 for the ECJ decision, and 15/9/99 for the original reference from the House of Lords).
The House of Lords followed the ECJ ruling, in that:
(1) the 6-month time limit for bringing a claim for backdated pensions under the Equal Pay Act 1970 was lawful (under EPA 1970, s2(4), a claim must be brought within 6 months of the end of employment); but,
(2) the 2-year backdating limitation (EPA 1970, s2(5)) was not compatible with Article 119, and thus part-time pensioners would be entitled to back-date their pension claims to 8th April 1976 (the date of the ECJ's decision in Defrenne v Sabena, when it was held that Article 119 had direct effect).
And an additional point:
(1) Where there is a series of employment contracts of limited length, within a "stable employment relationship", the claim has to be presented within 6 months of the expiry of the last of those contracts - not within 6 months of each contract coming to an end. This is of importance for professions such as schoolteachers. However, when a worker works on an occasional basis under a series of contracts, but in the absence of a "stable employment relationship", she must bring a claim within 6 months of the end of each particular contract of employment.
The decision is on the internet at http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld200001/ldjudgmt/jd010208/presto-1.htm