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Disability Rights Commission Act 1999

Section 10: Conciliation of disputes under Part III of 1995 Act

This section amends section 28 of the DDA 1995. The Secretary of State will no longer have the power to make arrangements for the provision of advice and assistance to promote the settlement of disputes arising under Part III of the DDA 1995. That power will be replaced by the DRC’s power to make arrangements for the provision of conciliation services in this area.

The section provides that the DRC should have regard to the desirability of securing (so far as reasonably practicable) that conciliation services are available to all those who want them for disputes arising under Part III of the DDA 1995. The section does not make conciliation mandatory or rule out other alternative dispute resolution methods. Nor does it prevent an individual taking steps in proceedings at the same time as or before conciliation.

The DRC may make arrangements for the provision of conciliation services with an individual conciliator or with a body which will secure that others fulfil that function. It will not be able to provide these services itself through its members or employees (subsection (3)).

The DRC will be required to ensure that any arrangements made include safeguards to prevent the disclosure to members or employees of the DRC of information which is communicated to a person providing conciliation services, except by consent or for the purpose of monitoring the arrangements (subsection (4)). Any information communicated during the consultation process will not be admissible in evidence in any proceedings without the consent of the person who communicated it. Subsections (3) and (4) will help to maintain the independence of the conciliation service from the DRC’s function of assisting parties.

Paragraph 3 of Schedule 4 amends paragraph 6(2) of Schedule 3 of the DDA 1995. The result is that, as has been the case with conciliation arranged by the Secretary of State, the period within which proceedings can be taken (normally 6 months) will be extended by 2 months where an individual considering taking proceedings under Part III of the DDA 1995 consults an organisation appointed under the new section 28 of the DDA 1995.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) will continue to provide a conciliation service in the field of employment.

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