Case examples

Below are brief summaries of some of the mediations I have conducted.

Disability Discrimination/Human Rights – Local Government

A legal case was brought under the Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights Act 1998 against a local authority by an autistic child and his mother. The case alleged disability discrimination and a breach of human rights in relation to the authority’s policy on eligibility for disability support services.

In the mediation, the local authority acknowledged the need to review its approach to the assessment of and provision of support for disabled children and young people. It agreed to amend its policies in order to ensure that services and support were provided fairly to all disabled children and young people, no matter what type of disability they have or how their needs present.

As part of the mediated settlement of the case, the local authority agreed to:

  • undertake an audit of cases which might have been affected by the policies that have now been withdrawn;
  • contact families subject to the audit to inform them that the previous policies have been withdrawn and that they may now be eligible for services;
  • publish a statement of the findings of that audit; and
  • carry out a review of the new policy through a public consultation.

Special educational needs

This case was an appeal made to tribunal in regard to a statement of special educational needs for a 15-year-old girl with autism and some medical difficulties that require support. Her parent was concerned that the statement didn’t accurately reflect her daughter’s needs and did not made adequate provision to support those needs, and she disagreed with the school named in the statement for her daughter to attend. The appeal wasn’t settled fully at mediation but the parties agreed to extensive drafting changes in the statement and agreed that new background information that had been obtained would be presented to the local authority panel in reconsidering its decision on which school to name in the statement.

Housing

An older resident was distressed that the Council was attempting to remove her security gate, which she had installed years ago as added protection to her front door. She was angry and felt the Council wasn’t listening to her. I contacted her local councillor and the housing office to explain her concerns and suggest a meeting. What was striking was the way the Council had made an assumption about risk without discussing this with her or with the local fire department; it appeared to be a case of ‘protection imperative’, assessing risk on behalf of someone who, because of her age, was considered vulnerable. Because of Covid restrictions, it was decided that a face-to-face meeting was not possible. However, the complaint went to the head of the housing department, after which the Council stopped insisting on removing the gate. In the end, no meeting was held, but the intervention allowed the resident’s concerns to be heard and acted on.

Disability discrimination

This mediation involved a discrimination claim made against a private nursery for permanently excluding a child with autism. HIs parents raised concerns about the lack of record keeping and unfair treatment of their son when he bit another child. At the mediation, a full and final legal settlement was reached, including the nursery agreeing to make a payment to an autism charity on behalf of the child.

A parent claimed a school discriminated against her son with Down’s syndrome by not providing communication aides and by teaching him outside the classroom away from his peers. She had lodged an appeal with the tribunal, and this was stayed to allow mediation to take place.  A four-hour mediation was held between the parent and the headteacher, and the appeal was resolved to both parties’ satisfaction.

The parent of a pupil in a mainstream primary school complained about the school’s treatment of her son, who has behavioural and emotional difficulties. She lodged her claim of disability discrimination with the tribunal. Her son had not been allowed to go on the class residential trip, which caused him frustration and disappointment. The school’s position was that it carried out two risk assessments and could not feel confident that he could be safely included in the trip. The agreements reached at mediation included an apology to the mother and her son and a financial contribution towards an alternative residential trip for the pupil.

Higher education

A university student was unable to finish her professional degree course and claimed that this was because of racism she experienced on a placement. She felt the university had not taken responsibility for handling her complaint about the placement, and as a result her mental health had deteriorated. Two mediation sessions were held to explore options to resolve the dispute and get her back on track. A full settlement was reached, including financial compensation and wording on a reference.

A visually impaired student issued a claim of disability discrimination against her university for failure to make reasonable adjustments. The claim was issued in county court and was stayed pending mediation. A six-hour joint mediation session was held, attended by the student, her supporter, her barrister and her solicitor and by the university’s solicitor and disability services director. A full and final legal settlement of the claim was reached.

Workplace

The mediation was of an interpersonal dispute between colleagues who were former friends. A grievance had been taken out by one party against her manager, but neither party knew what was happening with the grievance. Both were anxious about the mediation, and communication was difficult. At the mediation, a three-page record of agreements was produced, giving the parties a clear way forward in restoring their professional relationship. The parties also agreed to share the outcome of the mediation with colleagues.