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Alex Haines and Carin Hunt successful against World Bank Group

Alex Haines and Carin Hunt are to proceed to a substantive hearing of the merits of their client’s indirect sex discrimination claim against her employer, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) of the World Bank Group. 

This will be the first claim of its kind to be heard by the World Bank Administrative Tribunal (“the WBAT”) – an International Administrative Tribunal similar in nature to the United Nations Appeals Tribunal and the International Monetary Fund Administrative Tribunal – which sits in Washington DC. The WBAT has yet to consider whether indirect discrimination is prohibited pursuant to the internal policies of this large international financial institution whose employees must seek recourse within the IBRD’s internal justice system as opposed to national courts. Alex and Carin will therefore be arguing from first principles as to why the IBRD should recognise indirect discrimination as prohibited conduct.

Indirect sex discrimination occurs where there is an apparently neutral policy, provision or criteria that has a disproportionately adverse impact on female staff – unless that policy, provision, or criteria can be objectively justified. Alex and Carin will argue on behalf of their client that the IBRD’s obligation not to indirectly discriminate can be derived from its Principles of Staff Employment and is consistent with international legal norms that should be recognised by the WBAT.

To move this important case forward, Alex and Carin had to defend the Bank’s argument that the claim was inadmissible on a number of procedural grounds, brought in the form of “preliminary objections” to the claim. In a judgment handed down on 12 May 2023, the WBAT dismissed the IBRD’s preliminary objections, awarded legal costs against it, and ordered it to file its substantive response to the claim. 

The judgment can be read here.

Find out more

Alex Haines is called to both the English and Irish Bars and is a US-qualified attorney admitted to the NY Bar. He is a dual national, fluent in French and Spanish, specialist in international law and sanctions with rare expertise in international organisations law. He was appointed to the Attorney General’s London B Panel in 2019 and as Sanctions Officer at the Caribbean Development Bank in 2020. The cases he has been instructed in have involved more than 35 International Organisations including the World Bank Group, IMF, OAS and UN (including its specialised agencies and funds). He is ranked in Chambers and Partners for Sanctions and Legal 500 for Business and Regulatory Crime (including global investigations).

Carin Hunt was called to the Bar in 2018. She is eagerly developing her practice in international organisations law which benefits from her previous experience as an intern for the WHO in Geneva and as a Consultant for the UN in Jordan. In addition to her work in international organisations law, Carin has a busy civil practice with a focus on clinical negligence, personal injury, private international law and court of protection work. She is ranked in Legal 500 as a Rising Star for Personal Injury and Travel law (including jurisdictional issues).

News 11 Jul, 2023


Alex Haines

Call: 2007 (England & Wales); 2019 (New York); 2020 (Ireland); and 2024 (District of Columbia)

Carin Hunt

Call: 2018

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