Scottish Tribunals staggering lack of awareness of mental health

Sometimes we despair at the state of our legal system when the administration appears chaotic and judges appear to have arrived in a time machine. 

A recent Scottish Employment Tribunal case was one of the worse ever seen.  Despite medical evidence showing it was not safe for the Claimant to be questioned about his condition by a barrister due to serious long term mental illness that had previously resulted in multiple suicide attempts, his case was struck out precisely because he couldn't attend a hearing to take the witness stand.  The matter was made even more disturbing by the origin of the Claimant's mental health difficulties being him having been abused as a child.

And in the author's 25 year history of advice work, he was dumbfounded when a transcript of the hearing striking out the Claimant's case was denied with the President himself intervening to state in no uncertain terms we couldn't have one.  An appeal proved fruitless as the ranks closed.  

On the upside, the matter was pursued to the Ministry of Justice with the kind help of the Claimant's MP.  The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice replied to him stating,

"HMCTS always try to identify any party who is vulnerable at the earliest stage of proceedings. This is to ensure all users can access the justice system without being disadvantaged. This can be done on tribunal forms ET1 or ET3, or by another means of communication to the tribunal. HMCTS does everything possible to support users to participate fully in their case and will offer reasonable adjustments where possible. Any adjustments made to how proceedings are conducted will be a decision made by the judiciary".


"I am aware that Litigants in Person may find the tribunal process more challenging and it is important that our judges are appropriately trained to handle these types of cases. This includes cases where a party is both a Litigant in Person and has mental or physical disabilities. Training for judges on handling Litigants in Person is provided in all jurisdictions, and in cross-jurisdictional training, including the Faculty Induction Seminar that new judges are expected to attend within their first year of office".

So hopefully new judges will be better trained than the old ones!


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