Miscellaneous legal stuff

This page has some information relevant to some common legal situations and is compiled as we come across things or find resources which are useful. As it is long, we recommend using the Table of Contents at the top of this page to find what we have covered.

DART: Guidance for filing disability discrimination claims

We can recommend Doug Paulley’s DART toolkit for guidance on each step of filing with the county court. It is split into lots of section so you can jump to the relevant part.

Guidance for Litigants in Person

A Litigant in Person is someone who represents themselves in a legal situation. Lawyers who are dealing with Litigants in Persons are supposed to take extra care to be clear and helpful (while not actually doing your legalling for you). Lawyers are also explicitly not allowed to misrepresent the law but we find that sometimes they do.

Chapter for Litigants in Person in the Equal Treatment Bench Book

The Equal Treatment Bench Book is a massive guide to judges and courts about potentially-marginalised or disadvantaged court users. Chapter 1 is for Litigants in Person.

There is case law saying that judges should follow the guidance in the Equal Treatment Bench Book

Law Society – Guidance about Litigants in Person

The Law Society has a page with guidance for Litigants in Person. Guidance documents include:

  • Guidance for lawyers dealing with a Litigant in Person (you can send a copy to any lawyers who are being aggressive or dishonest to you.
  • Notes for Litigants in Person.
  • Notes for clients who are represented, but are dealing with a Litigant in Person.
  • Selection of relevant case law up to 2015 (there have been changes since!)
  • 2013 (older) Judiciary Guide for Litigants in Person

    The English and Welsh Judiciary have a Guide for Litigants in person which is now 10 years old now, but may still have useful information in it.

    Court fees

    When filing a claim there are usually court fees which vary depending on whether you are just seeking financial damages as a Civil National Business Centre (CNBC) claim or if you are seeking an injunction or declaration as well.

    Note: before August 2023 the CNBC used to be called the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC).

    Exemption from court filing and application fees

    If you are on certain benefits, have a low income and limited savings you may be entitled to fee exemption by filling in an online form which checks your eligibility and gives you a reference number that you can put on your claim or any court application forms. It is also wise to explicitly mention your fee exemption and reference in the supporting statement to remind court staff that you are fee exempt.

    Getting your fees back if you win or settle

    If you win your case, you can reclaim all or most of your court fees back from your respondent so keep evidence of payment and receipt.

    If you settle your claim at any time, it is normal practice for claimants to include their legal costs as part of that, so again on provision of evidence, you can ask for your court fees (and other legitimate legal expenses) to be covered.

    Getting your claim handled in the right place or fixing legal errors

    Avoiding your claim considered as a CMCC or “Part 7 – money only claim”

    If you want remedies such as a declaration (a formal statement that discrimination happened) or injunction (court order that something must be changed) as well as financial compensation, you cannot submit your claim through the Civil National Business Centre (CNBC). This is otherwise known as a ‘Part 7 money only claim’ designed to streamline the administrative parts of simple court claims.

    Often County Courts will incorrectly reject claims made directly to them and or redirect them incorrectly to the CNBC because they do not understand that you are filing directly to get a declaration and or injunction.

    We have written a Not-CNBC-Claim template covering letter to remind County Courts not to redirect to CNBC which you can adapt and send in when filing your claim.

    Requesting a change to court hearing location

    Often when you have issued a claim, a judge will give a direction for where the hearings should be held. Sometimes the hearing can be set for a different court than the one you issued at because that is the court nearest the respondent. This can happen even if you explained that are disabled and need a specific or local court for disability access reasons on your court paperwork.

    Making an application to change the hearing location

    Using Form N244 you can apply to vary the order so that a hearing is held at a court near you. The best place to explain your request is in the supporting statement space. You may wish to keep your request brief e.g. “I am a disabled wheelchair user, travelling is difficult and extra tiring for me because of my impairment. Please will the court allow the hearings to take place at XXX court which is nearest to my home and the easiest for me to travel to”. We recommend taking a very polite approach and hope that is effective.

    Making an application does require payment of a court fee as outlined above.

    If you wish to avoid paying court fees, you can try contacting the court by email or posted letter as a plain letter and asking them to change the location, especially if you made your request on your original application and explained your disability reasons.

    Requesting a change from Part 8 to Part 7

    Use an N244 Application Notice form and fill in the case details as much as you know them.

    Under “what order” section write “Case to be moved to part 7 as part 8 is incorrect”
    You can tick no to draft of order if you are not a lawyer.
    Tick no to having it dealt with at a hearing as this means a judge can do it as paperwork.
    Write “Deputy/District Judge” in level of judge needed.
    Write in the name of the organisations who need to be served with this application which should be any old, current and new defendants + their addresses.

    You can fill in the box or write a separate witness statement depending on how much you need to write.

    Complete and sign the statement of truth and claimant’s details.

    Making the Part 8 to 7 change – words

  • Example words: I am not sure why the Court has decided to use CPR Part 8, as other disability discrimination claims involving the Equality Act have been handled under the CPR Part 7.

  • It is my understanding that the Part 7 procedure is more appropriate to my claim, and not Part 8.

    Tell them you filled in a Part 7 form (if true)

  • I made my claim using an N1 form as this is the correct form for Equality Act 2010 under Part 7.

    Explain what you want as the claimant who should have ‘some’ right to choose how you litigate

  • As the Claimant, I would like my claim handled as a Part 7 claim
  • Cite why Part 8 doesn’t apply

  • CPR8.1(2) and CPR8.1(6) do not apply.

    Explain reasons why Part 8 is bad for your claim

  • If the case is issued under CPR Part 8, there are consequent limitations, for example that I couldn’t apply for default judgment if the defence didn’t submit their acknowledgement of service or their defence in time. Also that I may not able to submit any written evidence.
  • Refer to the multitrack which has costs risks and isn’t optimal for litigants in person

  • CPR 8.9(c) automatically means the multi-track which is inappropriate for lots of reasons.

    Requesting your case is allocated initially or re-allocated to small claims

    DART contains instructions for how to request allocation (or correction of allocation) to the Small Claims Track. We recommend you search DART for “small claims” as there’s various things explained.

    Changing an error in the defendant

    With some organisations it can be very difficult to identify the correct defendant as one company can trade under several different names with subtle differences between them. It is best to write to an organisation and ask them for the legal name of the entity responsible for the discrimination and their legal service address.

    You can often find information on webpages linking to the company’s registered number. Sometimes paperwork from the organisation has the organisation’s legal details on it, but this can be hard to find or confusing which is why we recommend asking them. If the organisation does not reply, or misleads you, the courts are likely to be sympathetic to you and unhappy with the organisation.

    Even if the mistake is entirely your fault, as a litigant in person, you may be afforded some leeway to correct your mistakes and not have your case ruined entirely. It helps to be suitably apologetic, explain why you made an honest mistake and ask the court very nicely and as formally and correctly as possible (see next section).

    Making the defendant change – N244 form

    Use an N244 Application Notice form and fill in the case details as much as you know them.

    Under “what order” section write “Request to change defendant from Full-Wrong-Defendant to Full-Correct-Defendant
    You can tick no to draft of order if you are not a lawyer.
    Tick no to having it dealt with at a hearing as this means a judge can do it as paperwork.
    Write “Deputy/District Judge” in level of judge needed.
    Write in the name of the organisations who need to be served with this application which should be any old, current and new defendants + their addresses.

    You can fill in the box or write a separate witness statement depending on how much you need to write.

    Complete and sign the statement of truth and claimant’s details.

    Making the defendant change – words

    In the N244 form space or witness statement (which should follow the standard format) you can set out your reasons in paragraphs.
    Only use reasons from below that apply to your case. These are example phrases only which are not legal advice but based on those successfully used by other litigants in person

  • I am applying to change the defendant as I made an error in identifying Wrong-Defendant. I have discovered the correct defendant is Correct-Defendant by Add-Brief-1-Line-Explanation.
  • I make my application in compliance with CPR 19.4(2)(a) and 19.5(3)(a), given that both “the new party is to be substituted for a party who was named in the claim form in mistake for the new party” and “the claim cannot properly be carried on by or against the original party unless the new party is added or substituted as claimant or defendant”.
  • Explain your mistake and how it happened.

  • Example explanation: My mistake was due to the complexity of the Defendant-Name group of entities. There is a Defendant-Name-UK and a Defendant-Name-EU registered at the original service address. As a Litigant in Person I did not realise I should serve against Defendant-Names at a European address when there was a UK entity. It is difficult as a layperson to ascertain which is the correct defendant.
  • Explain any ways the defendant may have contributed to your mistake

  • Example explanation: Contrary to the Defendant’s statement. I did comply with the Practice Direction: Pre-action Protocol. I have had substantial attempted correspondence with Defendant-Name’s staff at EmailAddress which is a co.uk email address. It was to this address that I sent my Letter Before Action. I sent this Letter Before Action to them on DATE because they had not responded to 3 previous rounds of complaints correspondence about the disability discrimination I experienced. I also requested the Defendant-Name disclosed key documents relevant to the dispute, in compliance with the Practice Direction and with my data subject access requests. Defendant-Name did respond to my data protection requests from this same email address.
  • Continued Example – split cos it got long: Having not received any acknowledgement from Defendant-Name, I sent follow up emails requesting a response on Date-1 and Date-2. Defendant-Name eventually replied on Date-3, (Number-Days after the deadline I set in my Letter Before Action) solely to claim that I had sent my Letter Before Action to the incorrect address. They did not provide an alternative address. By then, I had to issue to protect my position, as the limitation period was drawing close.
  • Continued example – 3rd point: I have experienced considerable frustration with Defendant-Name’s failure to respond to my concerns, including their failure to respond to my Letter Before Action. I wish to encourage Defendant-Name to improve their accessibility of their services to disabled people such as myself. It is with sadness that they have not responded to my attempts to engage before this stage.
  • Explain why the defendant is not worse off because of your application

  • I do not believe that the current or prospective defendant will be in a worse position if the defendant is changed. I would have been entitled to issue in Court in December 2018 but not serve until April 2019 in accordance with CPR7.6. In any case, the interconnected relationships between the Defendant-Name group of entities means that it is likely that Correct-defendant have in fact received a warning of my complaint from Incorrect-Defendant-Name.
  • Appeal to overriding objectives of the small claims/civil procedure rules.

  • In the interests of the ‘overriding objective‘ of putting claimants on an equal footing and conducting cases justly and with minimal costs, I consider my application to change the defendant to be reasonable.
  • Apologise humbly!

  • Example text: I beg the court’s pardon for my error in naming the wrong Defendant.
  • Financial damages and the Equality Act

    Injury to Feelings and Vento bands

    The most common thing that is expected from a legal claim for disability discrimination is financial compensation ‘damages’. This is for ‘Injury to Feelings’ which means the hurt and distress the discrimination has caused you. This is separate psychiatric or physical injury which would be a ‘personal injury’ issue.

    The amounts you can claim for injury to feelings in England, Scotland and Wales are split into 3 Vento bands (named after a 2002 court case) called Lower, Middle and Upper which correlate to severity of injury to feelings.

    The Vento bands were devised for employment discrimination claims and are accepted for civil claims e.g. in the County Court. Stammering Law have an excellent page on discrimination compensation which you may wish to read for more detail.

    How much are the Vento bands?

    Since 2017, the cost range for each band has been set yearly by senior Employment Tribunal judges through ‘Presidential Guidance’ which is a form of official announcement.

    The Vento value is set at the date you set a Letter before Claim or filed with the court so you may wish to wait after late-March each year which is when the rates change in line with inflation.

    July 2017 to March 2025 Vento rates

    Vento bands July 2017 to 2025
    Effective from Lower Middle Upper Official source
    6th April 2024 £1,200-£11,700 £11,700-£35,200 £35,200-£58,700 Presidential Guidance, Seventh Addendum
    6th April 2023 £1,100-£11,200 £11,200-£33,700 £33,700-£56,200 Presidential Guidance, Sixth Addendum
    6th April 2022 £990-£9,900 £9,900-£29,600 £29,600-£49,300 Presidential Guidance, Fifth Addendum
    6th April 2021 £900-£9,100 £9,100-£27,400 £27,400-£45,600 Presidential Guidance, Fourth Addendum
    6th April 2020 £900-£9,000 £9,000-£27,000 £27,000-£45,000 Presidential Guidance, Third Addendum
    6th April 2019 £900-£8,800 £8,800-£26,300 £26,300-£44,000 Presidential Guidance, Second Addendum
    6th April 2018 £900-£8,600 £8,600-£25,700 £25,700-£42,900 Presidential Guidance, First Addendum
    11th Sept 2017 £1,000-£8,000 £8,000-£25,000 £25,000-£42,000 Judicial Consultation

    Which Vento band should be chosen

    Purves v Joydisc – minimum £750 (in 2003)

    There a case called Purves v Joydisc which states that the lowest award for the slightest injury to feelings should be £750 in 2003.

    This £750 needs to be considered in light of inflation since February 2003. You can put a figure into the inflation calculator and compare values. In 2022, that £750 is equivalent to over £1300.

    We recommend citing Purves and the relevant inflation figure (explaining how you arrived at that) but sadly courts do not always take that as seriously as we think they should in inflationary terms.

    EHRC – value of a discrimination claim

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have a resource called How to work out the value of a discrimination claim. This document outlines the approach of courts, Vento bands (as per 2018 values), discusses Purves as a disability case, outlines some previous awards and justifications for them. The document also talks about how you can prove levels of injury to feelings including claimant witness statements, medical evidence if appropriate.

    Claimants choosing Vento bands

    A common difficulty Claimants can have is hoping or expecting claims to be worth more than a court or tribunal is likely to award. Lawyers will guess values based on similar cases they have access to (which is more than most of us). A Litigant in Person has to think carefully about the severity of the issue and rely on freely available resources to try and work out a reasonable value while being emotionally affected by the discrimination.

    Costs risks of not accepting a ‘reasonable’ settlement offer (part 36 etc)

    As most cases settle before getting to court, a lot of the negotiation about injury to feelings amounts is informal. However, there can be formal “pre-legal” things requiring caution such as a Part 36 offer (named for the part of the Civil Procedure Rules it comes from).

    If a litigant (one of the legal parties) rejects a Part 36 offer and a court later awards more, the litigant who rejected the offer can be liable for considerable costs including legal fees and other costs plus the interest on those amounts from around 21 days after the Part 36 offer was made.

    Suggestions for determining appropriate compensation

    We recommend that you do careful research including the resources on this page and think about what stage you are in the negotiations. If you ask for too much your respondent may push you to court or try and trap you with Part 36 offers. If you ask for too little, it can devalue your claim.

    Biases in legal system affecting awards of damages

    Judges are often quite privileged and there are very few disabled judges who understand the very real stressors of constant discrimination. We have had reports of disabled people told by judges that they must get used to discrimination so that repeat instances are not as detrimental to them. When we discussed this with disabled people, everyone strongly disagreed and actually felt repeated and constant discrimination worsened the impact of each single instance.

    Getting the tone right in your claim around injury to feelings can be tricky. Sometimes disabled people’s tone and or demeanour in court can be judged in ways which we think are unfair.

  • If someone is perceived as too emotional then the judge can decide and even say that they felt the claimant was too melodramatic or hysterical and trying to inflate level of injury to feelings to get more money.
  • If someone is perceived as not emotional enough, then their feelings can be judged ‘less injured’ and the award also lowered.
  • If you have an impairment that affects your use of language or how your social skills are perceived by other people, disclose this clearly and explain it in your court documents and be prepared to provide proof for it.

    Trying to predict biases in the court system

    Biases are hard to predict as it depends on the relative personal attributes (ages, apparent genders, ethnicities, perceived social classes etc) of the judge and claimant.

    CN Racism: An example of this kind of bias is a case where a Black Man was awarded lower damages in his claim because he was perceived to be resilient even though it is known that white people often perceive Black people’s pain as less serious and that Black people have to limit how they react or behave to avoid being deemed violent, aggressive or other racist tropes.

    Using witness statements to describe injury to feelings

    Another thing Claimants can do to explain the injury to feelings is to describe it in detail in witness statements. If there is someone who can legitimately and truthfully comment on the impact of the discrimination on the claimant, they could provide a witness statement as well. However, for a witness to be most effective, they have to be willing and able to attend court (this could be remotely, or with other adjustments) and be cross examined about their statement and its veracity.

    Without Prejudice

    What is Without Prejudice

    Without Prejudice is a legal term during negotiation and settlement correspondence to mean some things cannot be shown to a court, tribunal, arbitration and similar. It can apply to an entire chain of correspondence (and linked documents)

    Without Prejudice Save As To Costs is another variant where negotiations and settlements cover issues which could affect costs, meaning materials that cannot be shown to a court until a legal decision has been made and the court and litigants are considering costs.

    Lawyers often over-use the words ‘Without Prejudice’ (with or without reference to costs) and may write it on all sorts of correspondence or documents. Writing “Without Prejudice” (in either variant) does not automatically make something Without Prejudice. Not labelling something “Without Prejudice” also doesn’t guarantee something is permitted to be shown to the court. Lawyers dealing with a Litigant in Person should be careful to be clear about Without Prejudice, but that does not always happen.

    More information about Without Prejudice

    We recommend you search online and look for information from law firms and similar credible sources to give you more understanding of it.

    We have found a few links which may be helpful: