Statutory questionnaires allow you to put your case to the service provider and ask questions. They can help you to:
- identify any facts which are in dispute
- identify the strengths and weaknesses in your claim
- gather evidence and
- decide whether to start legal proceedings (if you have not already).
Why you should use statutory questionnaires
We strongly recommend that you use the relevant statutory questionnaire before making a court claim. A court will expect you to have taken all reasonable steps to resolve your complaint before starting court action and using the questionnaire is part of this process. (See Preliminary steps)
Using a questionnaire at this stage does not commit you to taking your claim to court. Any reply you receive will help you to decide whether the treatment you received was discriminatory or whether there is some other reason for it.
The questionnaire is an effective method of helping you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your claim. Also the service provider’s answers to the questionnaire can be used as evidence in court.
If the service provider does not answer the questionnaire, or answers the questions in a way that is ‘evasive or equivocal’, a court can treat this as evidence that the service provider did indeed discriminate against you. This is called ‘drawing an inference’ of discrimination.
Sometimes, receiving a questionnaire can prompt the service provider to reconsider your complaint.
How the statutory questionnaires work
The questionnaires are in two parts; you complete the first part and the second part is for the service provider to respond to you.
In England and Wales, you are known as the claimant. The service provider is called the defendant.
In your part of the questionnaire, you explain why you believe you have been discriminated against, and list questions for the defendant to answer about the treatment that you received.
You then send the questionnaire to the service provider so that they can complete their section. They should give their version of events, answer your questions and then return the completed questionnaire to you.
Time limits for the questionnaire
You should use the questionnaire before issuing a claim at the county court. You must send the questionnaire to the service provider within six months from the date of the discriminatory treatment, unless we have referred your complaint to the Disability Conciliation Service. If your case has been referred to conciliation, you have eight months from the date of the discriminatory treatment to send your questionnaire to the service provider.
If you have already applied to make a case of disability discrimination with the courts (See Making a claim), and then decide that you would like to use a statutory questionnaire, you must write to the court to ask permission to do so.
If the court refuses your request, you will be unable to use the questionnaire.
Meeting your court deadline with an outstanding questionnaire
Once you have sent the questionnaire to the service provider, they have eight weeks in which to provide a response. If, during these eight weeks, your time limit for making your claim at a county court is due, do not miss this deadline or you will probably lose your chance to take a legal claim. Make sure your claim form reaches the county court within six months of when the discrimination happened, even if the questionnaire has not yet been returned to you. See Time limits.
You can explain on the claim form or in a covering letter to the court that you have sent the service provider a statutory questionnaire, and include details of the date that it was sent and the date that you expect a response.
It is also advisable at this point to send the service provider a letter informing them that you have had to start proceedings in order to protect your legal position. See Preliminary steps. You can say that you would be prepared to withdraw your claim if a settlement could be reached informally.
Download statutory questionaires.
The following questionnaires can be used when bringing discrimination cases.
These questionnaire can be downloaded below:
These questionnaires can be downloaded from the Dept. for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) website: