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DEMOS Project

Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness
[Modules] : SENDA

Redress under the Act

How do I know if discrimination has taken place?

Skill has produced a 5-step test [External link: Open in new browser window] to help students and tutors understand whether or not discrimination has taken place.

The 5-step test encourages you to think about:

What action can a student take against me or against the institution?

If a disabled student believes that they have been discriminated against, they may bring civil proceedings either against the responsible body, the individual or both under the Act in a county court (England & Wales) or a Sheriff Court (Scotland). They must bring court action within six months of the alleged discrimination or of the alleged last discriminatory act, where discrimination took place over a period of time.

Does a student have to follow the institutions' complaints procedure first?

Students may want to make informal complaints in the first instance and institutions should ensure that they have written complaints procedures which will help the dispute be resolved quickly. Students do not have to raise an internal complaint before they initiate court proceedings, although this may be taken into consideration by the court.

What is the Conciliation Service?

The Disability Rights Commission [External link: Open in new browser window] has set up a Conciliation Service, run by Mediation UK [External link: Open in new browser window] , which will be an independent conciliation service for disputes. Conciliation will be made available locally and disputes may be referred if both parties agree. A settlement cannot be imposed on either party.

A complainant may agree to conciliation but still pursue their case through the courts. The time limit for court action is extended by two months if the conciliation process is used.

What may be awarded by the courts?

If the case goes to court, the court can award compensation including financial loss and injury to feelings. The disabled student may also seek an injunction (England & Wales) or interdict (Scotland) to prevent the institution repeating the discriminatory act.

A disabled person can bring a case under more than one section of the Act and there is no defence against that section being used - i.e. institutions cannot argue that since it has been brought under Part 2 rather than Part 4 there is no claim to answer.

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