ME is listed in the Equal Treatment Bench Book which contains guidance on Equality & Diversity issues for the judiciary, this includes Tribunal Chairs.
It may be useful for people with ME to highlight this information with the members of a tribunal in case they are unfamiliar with it The ME entry can be found on Page 28 of the disability glossary – Equal Treatment Bench Book – Physical disability, November 2013:
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome This is a relatively common illness of unknown cause, classified by the WHO as a neurological disease. It comprises a variety of symptoms including fatigue, malaise, headaches, sleep disturbances, difficulty with concentration and muscle pain.
A person’s symptoms may fluctuate in intensity and severity and there is also great variability in the symptoms and their severity between different individuals. It is characterised by debilitating fatigue which can be triggered by minimal activity. Those severely affected may be wheel chair users.
Many people with ME/CFS suffer with impaired concentration and short term memory, difficulties with information processing and word retrieval, hypersensitivity to light and noise.
Although people with ME may not appear unwell, travel to a tribunal or court venue will have been taxing and sitting in an ordinary chair is often uncomfortable. Limited mental stamina will also be a factor when participating in proceedings; breaks may be necessary to restore concentration.
More about the Equal Treatment Bench Book can be found on the UK government Courts and tribunals website
NB A disability, defined by the Equality Act (2010) is as follows:
if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.’ (Disability Discrimination Act 1995, carried over to the Equality Act, 2010).
This entitles people with a disability to ‘reasonable adjustments’ if they have a Hearing or in study / employment situations, so that disabled people are able to participate fully.
Plus, a further entitlement for employees and the self-employed is Access to Work, via Jobcentre Plus.