At the High Court – Costs in Discrimination Cases

Last week after permission was granted a large number of disabled people and allies supported one of our co-founders Esther Leighton at the High Court hearing to challenge the government over lack of costs protection for people taking discrimination claims.

Photograph of Esther and 9 of her supporters (6 using wheelchairs, one with a symbol cane and two wearing coloured lenses) outside the courtroom.
Esther and 9 of her supporters, 6 who are wheelchair users outside the court room. (We had more people arrive later)

Supporters travelled from as far as South Wales and North Yorkshire on a sunny weekday January morning. Being part of this large group turned the abled-gaze back upon itself as we proudly and quietly took up space in the court room and corridors and made our presence felt.

One of the government’s proposed legal arguments was that Esther was only taking the claim because she is excessively litigious. After seeing over 8 different wheelchair users (at various times – hence not all pictured above), people with other visible impairments and non-disabled allies in court; this argument was never even raised. I think our point was made – through solidarity.

While Esther is the named claimant in this case; this case matters to anyone who might need access to justice to challenge discrimination. On the subject of access to justice, despite requesting and being promised a loop system in advance; it was broken on the day. There were also other access failings which we will be raising with the court in due course.

The outcome was as expected a ‘reserved judgment’ which means the judge will take some time to consider all the issues and draft his judgement carefully. We expect this to take between 3 and 6 months. We will post as soon as we can share the outcome.

We would like to thank Esther’s excellent legal team Karon Monaghan QC from Matrix Chambers, Louise Whitfield and colleagues from Deighton Pierce Glynn, Inclusion London with Catherine Casserley from Cloisters Chambers and Chris Fry from Fry law as well as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) who are funding this case.

More information and writeups about the hearing and legalities can be found at: