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Legal support scheme

About the scheme

People who experience discrimination can find it difficult to cover the costs of taking legal action.

Our legal support scheme began in 2017. It provides vital funding and legal assistance to individuals, so they can pursue their claims and access the justice they deserve.

We also continue to take landmark cases that make the law clearer and set a precedent. This is set out in our strategic litigation policy.

New fund available for race discrimination cases

A high percentage of ethnic minority people in Britain have experienced prejudice and discrimination. Organisations are also repeatedly failing to protect members of the public from racial harassment and abuse. 

We want to improve outcomes for victims of racial harassment and discrimination.

We also want every employer and public service to understand their responsibilities and what the consequences are for not following the law.

If you have experienced discrimination and haven’t had legal advice, please contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) who will talk to you about your complaint. They will provide you with information, advice and support and may help you find a solicitor who can apply to the fund.

Legal practitioners can also apply for support towards their clients’ cases using the application form.

Please send completed application forms to: RaceSupportFund@equalityhumanrights.com.

When Sandeep and Reena Mander applied to adopt a baby, they were told White couples would be given preference. We supported their legal case and the court ruled they had been discriminated against.

Past project: discrimination in education

In 2017, we started a project to address identity-based bullying and discrimination in education.

Examples of this discrimination can include:

  • disabled students not being offered part-time courses as a reasonable adjustment
  • excluding a much higher number of pupils of a particular race

This project led us to take Ruby’s case. Ruby took her school to court after it enforced a uniform policy that banned Afro hair with too much volume.

When the school didn’t respond to the claim, the court issued a default judgment in her favour and the family reached a settlement.

We funded the case through court and secured a legally binding agreement with the school. The school had to end the discriminatory policy and must consider factors such as race and religion when determining what a ‘reasonable’ hairstyle is.

Past project: discrimination on public transport

We challenged transport operators to ensure that they met their legal responsibilities, so that this acts as a deterrent to others.

Funding for new cases under this project has now ended, but we will still consider applications from legal representatives for cases that may meet our business priorities and the criteria in our strategic litigation policy.

If you are a legal representative and wish to contact us about an issue, visit our contacts page.

If you have experienced discrimination and need information, advice and support, please contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Past project: disability discrimination

People who have experienced disability discrimination may find it difficult to take legal action because of a shortage of funding or assistance.

In 2017, we set out to improve the situation by launching the legal support project.

The pilot scheme provided funding and legal support for individuals who had experienced disability discrimination.

In total, we provided £189,000 for legal assistance across 94 cases.

Thanks to our funding, Tara Porter was able to pursue a case against Network Rail on behalf of her son Owen, who was unable to use his local railway station because it did not have step-free access. Without the funding, Tara would not have been able to access advice from a barrister.

After the success of the pilot project, we provided more funding to support discrimination cases in education, housing and social security. These schemes are now closed.

Last updated: 06 Sep 2017