Sexual Orientation and Discrimination in Goods & Services

The questionnaire

A person completing the questionnaire has to describe the situation in which s/he experienced discrimination and the way in which s/he believes discrimination took place. S/he should not, at this stage, be using the questionnaire to set out her/his case in detail but as an opportunity to obtain information from the respondent. S/he can also use the questionnaire to ask any questions which s/he thinks may be useful in giving an overall picture of the situation.

A copy of the questionnaire questions can be found on pages 19and 20 at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/pdf/uksi_20071263_en.pdf

After completing her/his section of the questionnaire, the complainant should make a copy for her/himself and send the whole questionnaire to the respondent. S/he can deliver it by hand or by post. If s/he sends it by post, s/he should send it recorded delivery.

Time limit for respondent to reply to the questionnaire

The respondent has eight weeks to reply to the questionnaire. If the respondent does not reply within this time limit, or does reply but replies evasively or vaguely to the questions asked, then if the case goes to court, the court can interpret this unfavourably for the respondent. This may then be reflected in the way it decides the case and in how much compensation it awards to the claimant. There are some exceptions when the respondent is not expected to reply to the questionnaire.

There is a standard form on which the respondent can reply, although s/he does not have to use it and could, for example, set her/his answers out in a letter instead. Can information from the questionnaire and response to it be used as evidence in court

The questions which the claimant puts and the respondent’s answers to them, if any, can all be used as evidence in court, provided that the questions are sent to the respondent within six months of the alleged act of discrimination.

Once the questionnaire is returned

When the respondent has responded to the questionnaire (or if the time limit is approaching), the claimant should issue a claim form. This will be issued in the county court or, if the value of the case is more than £15,000, the High Court

All county courts deal with sexual orientation discrimination cases.

Exceptions when the respondent does not have to reply to the questionnaire

The regulations set out when the respondent does not have to reply to any questions put by the claimant and if the respondent does not reply, the court will not draw any inference from her/his failure to respond. The respondent does not have to reply if s/he can reasonably show that to have replied to the claimant’s questions at all, or in a different way from the way in which s/he did reply, the respondent might have:-

These exceptions would normally only be used by the police or goverment bodies and we would strongly recommend that you sought specialist legal advice in those situations.