NAG Logo with charity No. 1028658
Home About Us Access Information Transport Projects Useful Links News

NAG is a registered charity No. 1028658

NAG is funded by Norwich City Council

The Rt Hon [Insert name of your local MP]MP

House of Commons

London


Dear [Insert name of your local MP] MP


Re: Equal Justice Campaign: Why I can’t now sue a service provider for Disability Discrimination.


I am disabled, and am entitled to protection against less favourable treatment because of my disability according to the Equality Act 2010.

In addition if I am unable to access a bus, train, education, or any other service or are placed at a substantial disadvantage simply because of my disability, I am entitled to ask for a reasonable adjustment to give me the same opportunity to travel, or to obtain a qualification, or conduct my day to day life as someone without a disability. If that organisation refuses to do anything about it then I can ask the Court to decide whether the organisation is in breach of the Equality Act, and if so, the Court will Order them to make that change. That benefits me and other disabled service users who will avoid the same barriers to accessibility.


Until 1st April 2013, I could do so on a Conditional Fee basis with the benefit of an insurance premium which would protect me against the costs of losing the case, and which I would get back if my case was successful. This created a level playing field between me as a disabled individual with little or no savings but a good cause of action supported by lawyers who are prepared to take my case on a conditional fee basis, and my opponent who typically has very much more money and would be able to employ expensive lawyers to defend the case. Without lawyers prepared to do the work on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis I would have no option to represent myself and face litigating in an unfamiliar system and with the risk of personal bankruptcy; it would just not be worth it.


On 1st April 2013, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act came into being. This shifted the costs of civil litigation in respect of Personal Injury cases to the Defendant company and did away with recoverable insurance premiums for Claimants as a result. But because my Equality Act case does not include a claim for Personal Injury, rather compensation for ‘injury to feelings’ and a request for reasonable adjustments, my case is not costs-shifted and I do need an insurance premium to protect me against the costs of losing. These insurance premiums are very large, and outweigh the compensation I would receive, to the extent that I cannot afford to bring such a case now. Even if I win I will lose out financially. This means that the law is now a service which I cannot access because of my disability, and I believe this in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


I would like to draw your attention to the Equal Justice campaign; the report for which can be downloaded at www.unity-law.co.uk and ask for your support in lobbying for change. There are two ways in which change can be effected:



1) Amend the Legal Aid Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) which forces a disabled Claimant to pay their own insurance premium in a successful case, or


2) Amend the Civil Procedure Rules so that in cases brought under the Equality Act 2010, Claimants are at no more costs risk in bringing a case than in a personal injury case; that way no insurance premium is required.


Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope you can help.



Yours sincerely,


Equal Justice Campaign


Please use the template below and send to your local MP at the House of Commons.