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Legal aid for victims of discrimination: our inquiry

Summary

We have launched an inquiry to look at whether legal aid enables people who raise a discrimination complaint in England and Wales to get justice.

We want to hear from you if you have experienced discrimination in England or Wales since 1 January 2017. We would also like to hear from organisations and groups who assist people who suffer discrimination.

Closing date: 30 November 2018 at 23:59

About the inquiry

The inquiry will look at whether legal aid for discrimination cases provides effective access to justice for people who have suffered discrimination. It will look at:

  • how discrimination cases are funded by legal aid
  • how many people receive legal aid funding for discrimination claims
  • whether there are barriers to accessing legal aid
  • whether some people experience specific difficulties in accessing legal aid
  • the operation of the telephone service as the access point for most discrimination advice
  • if legal aid provides effective access to justice for people who complain of discrimination
  • whether improvements could be made to reduce barriers and improve access to justice

Our findings and recommendations will inform the UK government’s review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).

An inquiry is a way for us to find out more about equality, diversity or human rights within a particular sector or about a specific issue. It is one of our powers.

You can find out about the inquiry in easy read format or by watching our British Sign Language video on Youtube

Ways to respond

We want to hear from you if you have experienced discrimination in England or Wales since 1 January 2017. We want to hear about whether you have been able to get effective access to justice, whether legal aid has helped you to do so and what works. We also want to hear about the difficulties you may have faced.

We would also like to hear from organisations and groups who assist people who suffer discrimination, whether or not your work is funded by legal aid.

Closing date: 30 November 2018 at 23:59

Respond online

Alternative formats

The surveys are also available in:

The accessible Word versions of the survey can be emailed to the legal aid inquiry team or returned to us by post at: 

Legal Aid Inquiry Survey
Equality and Human Rights Commission
3rd Floor Arndale House
Arndale Centre
Manchester
M4 3AQ

Hard copies of the survey can also be requested and mailed to you (we will enclose a stamped addressed envelope for you to return completed surveys to us). Request a hard copy of the survey.

If you would like to submit evidence to the inquiry other than through our surveys you can email your submission to the inquiry team.

Terms of reference

Further details about the scope of our inquiry are detailed in our terms of reference:

The terms of reference are also available to download in Welsh (Word). 

Further information

We do not provide legal aid. You can find further information on legal aid on GOV.UK.

We are not able to provide legal advice or help with getting legal aid funding as part of this inquiry, but you may be able to get help from the following organisations:

Please email the Legal Aid Inquiry team if you have any questions about our inquiry.

Why is this important?

Funding for most discrimination cases can only be accessed through the Legal Aid Agency’s Civil Legal Advice (CLA) telephone gateway service.

We are concerned that:

  • initial legal aid for discrimination cases dropped by nearly 60% after the telephone service was introduced
  • despite the telephone service dealing with over 18,000 discrimination cases since 2013, only 16 people were referred for face-to-face advice between 2013 and 2016
  • no-one was referred for face-to-face advice between 2016 and 2017
  • the telephone service may not always be accessible for disabled people and those with limited English language skills
  • despite over 6,000 calls to the service in 2013 to 2014, only four cases were recorded as receiving an award from a court or tribunal
  • very few cases receive legal aid to go to court

Last updated: 08 Nov 2018