Important change to the Civil Procedure Rules for disabled people

We are delighted to see that there has been a significant change to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) that will increase the rights of disabled and other court users from the 6th April 2021.

In practice we hope this means disabled people engaging with the courts should be able to draw attention to their “vulnerable status” under “Practice Direction (PD) 1A [PDF: p9-10]” and use this to strengthen requests for reasonable adjustments and good quality access to proceedings.

A downside of this positive change is that it is framed as “vulnerability”. A term that we see increasingly used about disabled people in ways that perpetuates pity and patronisation rather than rights and equity. Having impairments in and of itself should not denote vulnerability. Vulnerability for people with impairments like disablement is often caused by society, where disabled people’s access needs are not met and reasonable adjustments are not made.