Any legal action carries costs risks. Not tackling discrimination carries the certainty of further discrimination, which can result in destitution and sometimes even death. Judges have wide discretion over whether to award costs.
Whether the risk is worth taking depends on your individual circumstances. The worse that can happen is you lose and get a bill for the other sides legal costs. You would have to pay that if you can afford to.
KDR can represent you in complaints procedures and some tribunals only. If your case goes to the County Court (usually the only place you can ultimately get remedy for disability discrimination if the offender resists) we may be able to assist with filling in forms and drafting statements etc but cannot provide representation due to court rules. All County Court claims have to be issued with you as a litigant in person, unless we can get you a solicitor on legal aid, which is increasingly unlikely.
Being a litigant in person is a right and the court system must adjust to your needs. We may be able to support you to use the courts as a litigant in person. The official position from the courts service is that litigants in person are welcomed (https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/new-edition-of-the-equal-treatment-bench-book-launched/). Even so, this can seem daunting but it is also daunting being discriminated against. We would provide you with information to help you make an informed choice as to whether you wish to bring a case.
We also have links to solicitors to potentially refer your case on if we think you have a case and they agree to take it. This would be under a conditional fee agreement which is another way of saying no win no fee, but with solicitors it is a bit more complicated as you might imagine. The solicitors we work with are Chattertons. It's not obvious from the Chattertons home page they do disability discrimination but they do.
Kester Disability Rights may be able to help you put together your case. You may have to pay a court fee, which is refundable by the losing side if your case wins. There could be further court fees if a hearing is necessary. Many people do not have to pay court fees. This is called “court fees exemption” and depends on your income. Basically if you’ve not much money you won’t have to pay court fees. You can check if you are eligible for court fees exemption here.
And here is further information about rules for small claims in the County Court: Civil Procedure Rules Part 27 - Small Claims
Most disability compensation claims come within small claims limits so legal costs are not usually available to either side. This means that it is uneconomic to use solicitors for most of these types of claims. Tragically this means that thousands of acts of disability discrimination occur every year with impunity. That needs remedying. It's so bad there is even a Parliamentary Inquiry into it.
You do not necessarily need a solicitor for these types of claims – please see FAQ, "Are you a solicitor?".
And here is a self-help DWP discrimination guide
No. Our Director previously trained and supervised solicitors in carrying out social security casework under pro bono programmes in the voluntary sector. Before the abolition of legal aid, the vast majority of legal aid, in, for example, social security went to non-solicitor advisers. Many solicitors employ lots of non-solicitors to pursue cases. The monopoly of solicitors on advice has long since disappeared. The legal profession is structured in such a way that it is not economically viable for it to run many types of cases and so lawyers these days generally only work for wealthy people. And legal aid is currently largely a thing of the past.
The County Court Small Claims Track is specifically set-up to run without lawyers - legal cost are not usually recoverable. Non-solicitor advisers are permitted to represent for Small Claims, but only with the claimant present (Ministry of Justice - Practice Direction 27 - Small Claims Track). If the claimant being "present" causes a problem for a disabled person then the Court is required to make reasonable adjustments for them.
Alternatively, claims can be brought without representation and with more informal support. The courts service has produced guidance encouraging the courts to be more accommodating to litigants in person saying the litigant in person should never be seen as a problem. It's more about whether the court is a problem for the litigant in person: Read The Equal Treatment Bench Book.
If we decide your claim is better dealt with by solicitors we can refer you on to a reputable firm.
This is a relatively informal arena for claims up to £10,000. Legal costs are not usually available to either side, but refunds of court fees and expenses are available to the winning side. There are rules to help claimants who cannot attend and the whole idea is that this is an informal court where barristers and the like are not appropriate. This court is held throughout the country and there is even a new on-line version being piloted.
The main problem with the small claims regime is that not all cases that should be allocated to it are allocated to it meaning that litigants can suddenly be confronted with a highly legalistic situation. UK courts are largely designed by and for lawyers unfortunately and the official information about the accessibility of the small claims arena is not always matched by the reality.
- Is there a charity that has a sustainable funding model to meet the advice needs of its beneficiaries? KDR is a sustainable growth model.
- The charity and public advice sector is shrinking whilst demand is increasing – we need a growth model.
- Should disabled people be dependent on charity for the pursuit of their rights?
- Our Director had positive experience of no win no fee non-lawyer agreements in his own life. He liked the fact that my adviser would only get paid if he won my case! It felt much better than either being frightened by solicitors costs or being dependant on charity.
- Solicitors are too expensive for the vast majority of people and legal aid for the areas we work in has all but disappeared.
Initial advice is free - it's only if we fully take on your case and win it that we charge anything.
Fees income is reinvested in services - we are totally not for profit. Income from fees is the only sustainable way we have found to fund the service. Grants etc come with strings attached and independence can be compromised.
Yes, these are being developed and added to the site in the different subject categories. They are free to access and use. We try to concentrate on areas where there's nothing else out there as there is already so much and you'll find links to other suggested free sites too.