What happens when I contact you?
The first stage in the process is that we will take initial details from you. This may be from our Casework Assistant or our Caseworker and may take the form of a phonecall or e-mail depending on the way you contacted us. They will seek further information from you to determine whether you have the possibility of a case to take forward. If you have they will organise the paperwork, asking you to sign a consent form for us to act on your behalf as well as the Damages Based Agreement (PDF) which enables us to take 35% of any successful award or settlement as payment for the service.
If there is a possibility of a claim, then the case will be recommended for support to our Trustee Board, which meets once a month. Your caseworker will explain the process and how long it will take for you to hear about whether we can take your case for you, and if so how far we can take it. You can download our flyer here, for further details about our discrimination casework service.
Do you take on all cases?
The short answer is no. We give everyone initial advice about their case, but we can’t take on everyone’s case because we haven’t got the resources to do that. We have a Priority Policy (PDF) about the cases that we will give priority to and what we take into account when making our decision eg complexity of the case, alternative representation and the like.
If you do take on my case am I going to win?
Discrimination cases are difficult to prove. Just because we have advised you that you may have a case does not mean that we will automatically represent you at a hearing – we need to get as much evidence together as possible before we can finalise our decision. Often the evidence comes in stages, and we cannot always determine the merits early on. Sometimes we have to wait until closer to the hearing to exchange information and witness statements before we can make a proper judgment on the case. We will however always strive to keep you updated and give you as much notice as possible if we cannot provide further support for your case.
Will it cost me anything up front?
The answer to this depends on your case. Sometimes we will need to pay for things in advance, like medical reports for your case and you would be responsible for paying that. Fees are also now being introduced from 29th July 2013 for submitting a claim in Employment Tribunal, but dependent on your circumstances you may be able to get fee remission (ie pay less or nothing at all). This will be explained to you at the beginning, so you can make an informed decision about moving forward with your case.
If you are a charity why are you charging me?
Many charities have to charge to keep their services running and we are no exception. In the past we used to receive a grant to deliver this service free of charge, but from April 2013 the main funder (Equality and Human Rights Commission) had their grant function taken away. We had two choices – begin charging for the service or close it. However, we do not charge up front and therefore we are the ones taking the risk on any case. Many discrimination cases are of low value, which is why private firms are often not interested in the case and in fact the 35% we receive rarely covers the actual costs we have incurred through preparing the case. In the rare cases where it does cover and more, that money is ploughed back into the casework service to enable others to be supported.