Civil Proceedings: Neurodiversity

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 15 May 2023.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to help neurodiverse people navigate civil proceedings; and what allowance for neurodiversity is made when considering the need for legal aid in such cases.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) provide reasonable adjustments to help neurodiverse people navigate the courts and tribunal systems.for court and tribunal users and take steps to avoid treating people less favourably because of their conditions. Court and tribunal users are encouraged to get in touch with HMCTS to discuss any particular adjustments or support they require, to enable their individual needs to be met.

Rules of court made pursuant to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 also allow vulnerable parties whose participation in the litigation would be diminished (due to their vulnerability) to apply for special measures. Special measures are a series of provisions that help vulnerable witnesses give their best evidence and help relieve some of the stress for example giving evidence from behind a screen, use of an intermediary or the use of video links.

All applications for legal aid in connection with civil legal aid services are determined in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, regulations made under the Act and the Lord Chancellor’s Guidance Under Section 4 of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

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