Law Society And Controversy Ass071-1 Assignment Sample

Exploring the Complexities of Legal Ethics and Public Scrutiny

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Introduction Of The Law Society And Controversy Assignment

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Section One: Background

Discrimination towards disabled students:

As per the view of Rice et al. (2019), harassment based on a student's actual or perceived handicap is known as disability harassment. Harassers can be faculty members, students, or even visitors to the school, like faculty or staff members from other institutions. Slurs, taunts, stereotyping, name-calling, physical threats, assaults, and other hostile behaviour are just a few examples of the various ways that disability harassment can manifest. As stated by Voss (2021), people with special needs are discriminated against because they believe those who are physically challenged are incapable of doing anything and should not be given opportunities. According to Osborne (2019), disability discrimination occurs when a handicapped student is treated worse than a child without a disability or when a school fails to make accommodations for a disabled student when they are required (Contact, 2022).

Figure 1: Rate of disabled students in the UK

(Source: Commons library, 2022)

In the Assignment Sample, it has been depicted that from 2018 to 2019 mental health disability was found among 4.5% of students in the UK. Mental illnesses can interfere with learning in the classroom by impairing attendance, academic performance, social integration, adjustment problems, behaviour control challenges, concentration, and attention problems, all of which are crucial to the student's success (Commons library, 2022).

As per the view of Rice et al. (2019), students with mental health disability face major issues with daily life or work. These patients are shunned by society. Patients in significant and protracted disputes, the grave risk to others' difficulties, and their families are concerned about possible repercussions. Higher education has a low representation of people with disabilities, and these students generally perform less well than their non-disabled counterparts. Disability increases a student's likelihood of dropping out of classes, and even those who complete their degrees tend to get lower grades. In the UK in 2016–17, fewer impaired students received first or upper-second-class degrees than students without a disability reported (Commons library, 2022). Additionally, the job outcomes for individuals with impairments are worse than those for students without disabilities.

According to the 2010 Equality Act, a mental health issue can be defined as a disability when it has a long-term effect on the day-to-day activities of a person (UK gov, 2022). Moreover, if a condition lasts or is anticipated to last for 12 months, it is considered "long-term." ' An everyday activity is something a person usually undertakes on a typical day. This includes activities such as using the computer, keeping regular hours, or communicating with people, which proved challenging for a mentally disabled person. According to the Equality Act, it is unlawful discrimination if someone refuses to cooperate with the obligations of a person with a disability to make reasonable changes (Citizen’s advice, 2022). They can request that the individual or group make the required adjustments. The person can file a "discrimination claim" under the "Equality Act” if they reject it.

Section two: Analysis of societal opinion

“Natasha Abrahart committed suicide as a result of the university's discrimination against her”

This terrible instance featured a physics student who suffered from social anxiety and despair. Even though she missed most of the interviews, the institution persisted in trying to evaluate her through oral interviews. After the university learned that she suffered from a mental health issue related to the interviews, this continued (BBC, 2022). On the day the university wanted her to be a part of a group presenting an oral conference presentation, she committed suicide in her apartment. According to the County Court, the university was in violation of the Equality Act.

The media article has appropriately highlighted the struggle of parents having mentally disabled children studying at Bristol University. The demands of these parents for enacting a legal duty of care for universities are presented in the news article with proper rationale (BBC, 2022). The difference between the legal duty and the moral duty of universities to take care of the mental health of students has been perfectly discussed in this article. This article conveyed the message that the legal duty of care is important to be enacted by the government in universities to protect students with mental health disabilities to commit suicide.

As stated by Eckstein (2019), a responsibility that is founded on morals or ethics is referred to as a moral duty, while an obligation that is founded on the legislation of a country is referred to as a legal duty. It has been presented in this article that due to a lack of precedents and statutes related to negligence, The claim of duty of care by the parents was not considered by judges. However, the article has highlighted the responsibilities of universities to meet reasonable adjustments for students having disabilities. Thus the social issue of Lack of protection for students with disability who cannot gain benefit from the Equality Act has been presented in the article.

The legal compensation of this case was appropriately highlighted in this article which stated that as the discrimination that was committed against Natasha, the university was ordered to pay more than 50,000 pounds in restitution (BBC, 2022). Universities in the UK made a public announcement on new guidance for "information sharing" with the intention of preventing student suicide. This enhanced society's knowledge about the commitment and liability of universities to take care of their students. Moreover, if universities have significant worries about a pupil's mental health, the guidance instructs them to get in touch with important members of the student's family, caregivers, or friends.

Parents of victims of similar issues supported the petition of Abraharts and demanded new legislation for being liable to a legal duty of care which was clearly understood by analysing the media news. As per the view of Eckstein (2019), their petition highlights crucial issues regarding the obligation of care that schools and universities have to their students. However, it has been seen that the suicide rate among college and university students with disability in England and Wales dropped to its lowest point in four years during the academic year that ended in 2020.

Figure 2: Rate of suicide in the UK (2000-2021)

(Source: Statista, 2022)

In the above figure, it is highlighted that the rate of suicide decreased to 5224 in 2020 (Statista, 2022). The rate stood at 3 deaths for every 100,000 students in both countries as an outcome of media stories (The Guardian, 2022). This is clearly indicating that the case of Natasha influenced the rise of criminal prosecution in the UK.

Section three: Legislation and case law

People remain protected from discrimination in the society and workplace due to the “Equality Act of 2010” (Scope, 2022). It has integrated all the statutes related to anti-discrimination while enhancing protection for individuals from being discriminated against. In the case of Abrahart v University of Bristol as per the court, an appropriate adjustment must be made by the officials of the university to support Natasha with her mental health disability (Stammering law, 2022). Since Natasha continued to have a significant disadvantage over a non-disabled person, the institution could not be said to have complied with the obligation to make reasonable adjustments, even if it claimed that it had done so.

The fact that she did not make use of Disability Services is probably the single most damning criticism that can be levelled against her. On the other hand, Keeley (2021), stated that infirmity is the cause of the lack of participation of a person with mental health disability. Regrettably, it appeared as though the institution had simply stopped moving forward with its evaluation of reasonable changes due to the lack of a Disability Support Summary. Under those conditions, the institution could not use the fact that it lacked the necessary expertise as an excuse for failing to offer reasonable accommodations. Although it does not state it explicitly, the court most likely also deemed the university responsible for indirect forms of discrimination (UK gov, 2022). The court disagreed with the university's contention that Natasha's comparator was someone with similarly subpar abilities in oral presenting and ruled against the university.

According to the complaint, Natasha had received "unfavourable treatment" in regards to "the grading down oral assessment work penalty's imposition marks” with which Natasha must be trapped until unexpectedly succeeded in continuing a case of mitigating factors and would lead in a time of unfavourable treatment. The court concluded that the institution had not adequately justified its decision not to make any revisions. The institution mentioned that all students should have access to equal opportunities. It referred to the University's "Regulations and Codes of Practice for Taught Programmes" on assessments, which stated, if an oral exam is a component of the evaluation of a unit, it must apply to every student taking that unit (UK gov, 2022). The court interpreted this argument to suggest that the sentence itself must be another PCP which is likely susceptible to modification. In any event, the court referred to other parts of the treaty that discussed the possibility of making modifications.

The Mental Health Act (1983)

The Mental Health Act of 1983, which was last revised in 2007, is a piece of legislation that applies in England and Wales (Mind, 2022). People who have issues with their mental health are informed of their rights in the following areas: Evaluation and treatment while in the hospital. Care is provided in the neighbourhood. It has been seen in the case of Abrahart v University of Bristol that when the university was aware or should have known that Natasha's inability to perform was due to some kind of mental health disability, the court said in its judgement that there was no doubt that this was discrimination (Stammering law, 2022). This is especially true once the university knew that a "mental health disability" of some kind was preventing Natasha from performing. There was no dispute regarding causality. According to this Act, the authority of Bristol University must empower Natasha to do better in her future. The court could interpret this Act to shed light on the community support for mentally disabled people.

Section four: Conclusion

Based on the above discussion it can be concluded that discrimination against mentally health-disordered people is an issue as it restricts them to develop their skills, engage with education and become powerless. The media of the UK has covered this issue appropriately while highlighting the existing gaps in the equality act of the UK. The impact of the gaps on the educational life of mentally disabled students has been depicted perfectly in the media report. The media report was also effective to inform parents of other victims to support parents of Natasha in terms of demanding an amendment to the present equality act of the UK.

Furthermore, this awareness was also effective to reduce the rate of suicide among students with mental health within the UK. The court of the UK properly analysed the dispute and the breach of the Equality Act by the authority of the Bristol university. The court found that the university did not go that far. Natasha's refusal to consider any sensible revisions was not supported by the fact that, despite certain proposals being floated, none of them were put into action. It has highlighted that appropriate adjustments must be made by the university, which in the case Natasha was missing. However, the claim of the parents regarding the negligence of the university in terms of duty of care was rejected by the court as there is no particular act on this.

Moreover, it has been understood that if additional legal responsibilities are going to be positioned in universities on top of those that are already considered necessary in those other professional work or learning centres, then these new responsibilities need to be supported by improved care for mental illness across the healthcare system as well as additional funding.



Eckstein, L., 2019. Assessing the legal duty to use or disclose interim data for ongoing clinical trials. Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 6(1), pp.51-84.

Keeley, B., 2021. The State of the World's Children 2021: On My Mind--Promoting, Protecting and Caring for Children's Mental Health. UNICEF. 3 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017.

Osborne, T., 2019. Not lazy, not faking: teaching and learning experiences of university students with disabilities. Disability & Society, 34(2), pp.228-252.

Rice, M., Oritz, K., Curry, T. and Petropoulos, R., 2019. A case study of a foster parent working to support a child with multiple disabilities in a full-time virtual school. Journal of Online Learning Research, 5(2), pp.145-168.

Voss, B.L., 2021. Documenting cultures of harassment in archaeology: a review and analysis of quantitative and qualitative research studies. American Antiquity, pp.1-17.

Case laws

Stammering law. (2022). Abrahart v University of Bristol: oral assessments led to suicide. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]


BBC. (2022). Natasha Abrahart suicide: Parents call for universities to change. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

BBC. (2022). Natasha Abrahart: University considers appeal against suicide ruling. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

BBC. (2022). Student suicides: Parents seek law change to prevent deaths. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

Citizens advice. (2022). Duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Available at:,claim%20under%20the%20Equality%20Act [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

Commons library. (2022). Support for disabled students in higher education in England. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

Contact. (2022). Disability discrimination in school. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

Mind. (2022). Mental Health Act 1983. Available at:,Treatment%20in%20the%20community [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

Scope. (2022). Disability discrimination and the law. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

Statista. (2022). Annual number of suicides recorded in England and Wales from 2000 to 2021. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

The guardian. (2022). Parents urge UK universities to reveal student suicide rates. Available at:,lowest%20rate%20in%20four%20years [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

UK gov. (2022). Disability rights. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

UK gov. (2022). When a mental health condition becomes a disability. Available at: [Accessed on 27th October 2022]

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