Equal access to justice
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My concerns are unlikely to strike a note amongst those senior judges delivering “big justice” who will operate in the multi-track. They seldom encounter disabled people in their courts and when they do access, communication and representation problems are likely to have been sorted out at an earlier stage. But for those of us who have to deal with those earlier stages or are to (and already do) deliver “bulk justice” in the fast track and small claims courts, coping with disabled litigants is already a problem. Hitherto we have responded with insufficient care to their needs, but is it too late to hope that we may be encouraged (or better still constrained) to take into account their disclosed needs when managing cases so that civil proceedings may be conducted in a manner that is fair to all. If we do not face up to this now we could find ourselves and our courts in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which is intended to impose the new culture on society (including our courts). The message from society is clear: a change in the culture of civil justice is required but we must not overlook the “disability factor”.
KeywordsDisable People Alternative Dispute Resolution British Medical Association Small Claim Disability Discrimination
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