Information for LGBT people on the legal process involved in taking an organisation to court for sexual orientation or trans identity based discrimination
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What you can do

Going to court

If you have been discriminated against and if you are unable to resolve the situation with the service provider in a satisfactory way, then you could take a claim to the Sheriff court. A court will expect you to have taken all reasonable steps to resolve your complaint before starting court action. Also bear in mind that taking court action can be a long and stressful process which can also be expensive and if you lose the case in court, you may have to pay the legal costs of the trader or service provider which could be expensive.

If you’re thinking about taking court action, you should get advice from an experienced adviser - for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Statutory questionnaire

You could use a statutory questionnaire before taking court action. Statutory questionnaires allow you to put your case to the service provider and ask questions. Any reply you receive will help you to decide whether the treatment you received was discriminatory. Sometimes, receiving a questionnaire can prompt the service provider to reconsider your complaint. The service provider's answers to the questionnaire can also be used as evidence in court. If the service provider does not answer the questionnaire, a court can treat this as evidence that the service provider did indeed discriminate against you.

For incidents which took place on on after 1st October 2010 individuals should use the following questionnaire found here.

Making a claim through the court

There are strict time limits for going to court. You need to make your discrimination claim within 6 months of the act you’re complaining about. It’s important to keep this in mind if you want to try and resolve your problem informally first.

You must be able to show that you have been unlawfully discriminated against and be able to show the court evidence that you have been treated unfairly and that the reason you have been treated unfairly is because of your sexuality or gender identity. It is therefore important that you keep emails, letters and any other documentary evidence which will support your claim.

More information on making a claim through the court can be found here.

How much does it cost?

It does cost money to go to court. The fee you have to pay to the court depends on the amount you are claiming, including interest. There are some exemptions for paying court fees. You can find out more about Sheriff Court fees here.

What will happen?

You will be given a hearing date and before this you could settle out of court with the defendant. If not then you will go to trial and a judge will assess your case and decide an outcome. There is opportunity for an appeal should this decision not go your way.