Judge’s warning over courts’ treatment of disabled people

A judge known for promoting the rights of disabled people told a
conference last week that more must be done to ensure justice for
people with all types of disabilities.

District judge Gordon Ashton, who is a trustee of several
disability charities and has a son with severe learning
difficulties, warned that courts could find themselves in breach of
the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if they did not improve the
services they offered.

Speaking last week at the Law and Justice for People with
Learning Disabilities conference organised by the Law Society and
the Department of Health, Ashton said: “To the disabled individual
it does not matter whether the problem is physical access to the
court building, understanding what is going on, or actually being
heard and understood by the judge. All would be seen as

Judge Ashton told the conference of lawyers, civil servants, and
local authority and voluntary organisation representatives that law
reform in this area was being held back by its perceived cost, and
was “the worst form of discrimination against people with

Ashton said that plans for assessing capacity could “turn into a
nightmare” if funding concerns dominated government thinking.

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