In April this year the law around ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements changed due to lobbying from the insurance industry around the so-called compensation culture. This has massively backfired onto the most vulnerable of society, and has made enforcing the Equality Act 2010 incredibly difficult. I wrote about this issue in August, but since then have heard almost nothing more about this problem. This is one of those subjects that should be making headlines, causing protests and marches, but instead the response has been limited.
Just to summarise: If a person with a disability wanted to bring a legal case against someone – for example a bank, for refusing to provide a ramp, or a university for failing to adhere to a request to provide course materials in braille for a blind student, they could have entered into a no win, no fee agreement with a specialist law firm. These agreements are backed with an insurance policy, and would mean if the case was lost, the insurance company would protect them from any fees, and if they won – all the costs were met by the losing side. However, the change to the law has meant even if the case is won, they cannot claim the costs of the insurance premium back.
It may be thought that it’s completely reasonable to pay the costs out of any compensation received – but damage payouts tend to be pretty low. In fact – most of the time it will mean having to pay out much more than any compensation amount they could ever hope to receive.
This means the following:
- Legal proceedings will be reserved for only the richest in society.
- Shops and service providers will be able to ignore the law, as no one will be able to afford to bring a case against them.
- It has vastly reduced the power of the Equality Act overnight.
- Legal cases bring change that help shape society to be accessible to people with disabilities.
Today Unity Law has launched the Equal Justice Report, which you can read here. Please do read it to find out the specifics of what needs changing, and the impact it will have. Here are two simple ways you can help:
- Write to your MP. Unity has provided a template letter within the report, but I have found not all MPs respond well to a template letter – so write how it may impact you or your loved ones.
- Create a buzz on social media – share the report on every platform you can, and tweet using the hashtag #equaljustice
People need to realise the impact this will have, and that will only happen if we all pull together to fight back against this terrible change in the law.