Enforcement of the Equality Act inquiry – Inclusion London’s evidence

Inclusion London recently submitted evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into the enforcement of the Equality Act.

The Women and Equalities Committee has launched an inquiry into the enforcement of the Equality Act 2010. Inclusion London has recently submitted evidence to the Committee and a summary of our evidence is given below.

Our evidence highlighted the barriers Deaf and Disabled people experience in enforcing their rights under the Equality Act. For instance an individual has to initiate the legal action, which causes a number of difficulties for Deaf and Disabled people. For example:

  • Deaf and Disabled people taking legal action are usually up against a company with much larger resources, so are unwilling to take the challenge on.
  • Litigating in person is not for everyone especially in discrimination cases, as they can be legally complex. It is often hard for a person who is not legally trained to deal with legal arguments about the comparator, justification or reasonableness.
  • Also legal support is thin on the ground as there are very few lawyers who specialist in disability discrimination.

Changes brought in by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act[1] (LASPO) has seriously reduced the access to justice for Deaf and Disabled because of the financial risks involved and the lack of access to free legal advice.

Also LASPO introduced a mandatory telephone gateway to access legal aid for discrimination, SEND (Special Education Needs and Disabilities) and debt cases.  We believe this made it much harder for Deaf and Disabled people to access good quality legal advice at an early stage.

Inclusion London’s submission is available to download here.

Inclusion London also supported the Equality and Diversity Forum’s submission available at: Enforcing of the Equality Act 2010 inquiry.

[1] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/10/contents/enacted