As any Claimant’s lawyer understands, legal costs present one of the biggest obstacles for individuals who seek justice when they have experienced discrimination. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (the EHRC) recognise this. At the beginning of this year they launched a pilot scheme project to provide funding and legal assistance to help claimants pursue disability discrimination claims. According to their website https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/legal-casework/legal-support-project-helping-people-get-legal-assistance, funding was approved for 118 disability discrimination cases in the areas of employment, education and public services – a total of £189,000 legal funding. The vast majority of this funding (90 cases) was allocated to pre-claim work which included advice, evidence preparation and legal research. In the remaining 28 cases, funding was approved for hearing preparation and representation.
Following the success of this pilot project, on the 13 September 2017 the EHRC announced a second round of funding to support individuals who have suffered discrimination (not just disability discrimination) in education: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/gwaith-achos-cyfreithiol/legal-support-project/legal-support-project-discrimination-education.
The Education part of the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for education providers and general qualification bodies to discriminate against pupils on the basis of disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, and sexual orientation. This applies to state and independent education providers. Schools, further and higher education colleges, and universities, are some of the education providers covered by the Education provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
The EHRC project is designed to enable those who have suffered discrimination in education, and who might not otherwise be able to access legal support, by providing funding for legal advice, preparatory work for legal cases, and representation at hearings. Almost £500,000 funding has been assigned to help individuals obtain such legal advice and assistance. The EHRC have highlighted their interest in providing funding for legal proceedings that are already underway.
I very much welcome this new funding project by the EHRC, as we are seeing a growing number of enquiries at didlaw about disability discrimination in Education. If you have experienced discrimination in education, please contact us for a free initial chat.
Written by Mark Bainbridge