After taking advice yesterday, Beds in the Orchard contacted their solicitor and asked for a Letter Before Claim to be sent to the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust with regards to taking them to court for a Judicial Review into their action of closing The Orchard to women.
When taking action, even temporary, that has a direct affect on a Protected Characteristic as outlined in
the Equality Act of 2010, in this case a person's sex, a public body
must pay due regard to the act and must publish documentation about how
due regard was given when asked. The Trust as unable to provide such information and are therefore liable to Judicial Review.
Below are some of the questions that have been asked amongst campaigners and our responses.
What does this mean?
The Letter Before Claim will lay out the case for how the Trust has made a decision in a way that contravenes the Equality Act. It will give them the opportunity to negotiate a resolution with our campaign before it goes to court.
Judicial Review claims are eligible for Legal Aid. For someone to be eligible for Legal Aid they need to be in receipt of certain benefits - in our case ESA, have savings of less than 8K and less than 100k of equity in any property they own. Because of the nature of the people we are supporting, there are a number of our group who qualify for Legal Aid.
Do you really want to go to court?
This campaign has always been about returning inpatient care to the women of North Lancashire and that is all we want. We would naturally prefer to do this out of court so that the public money that funds the NHS was spent on patient care rather than court cases.
We would appeal to the LCFT to find a way to return The Orchard to a mixed sex facility as soon as possible and to not close the facility to women again. We are still at a stage where we can resolve this together and as our case is quite clear cut it would benefit no one for this to be taken fully down the legal route.