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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hello, I am a university student and my university claims

Customer Question

Hello,

I am a university student and my university claims that I might have commited a breach against a university regulation. However, I had a mental illness at the time of the alleged breach (and I'm now recovered) and there is medical evidence that this illness had a profound effect on my ability to form a free will and that I was not aware of the actions I undertook.
The university regulations do not state what should be done in such a case.

Can the university penalise something, if there is evidence that an illness contributed to the behaviour? Are there any 'Disability Discrimination' or 'Equality' laws, etc., that would stop an institution to penalise behaviour directly caused by a mental illness/ disability?

Thanks for you help.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Can you please explain your situation in a bit more detail - what happened and what illness are you claiming affected your actions?

JACUSTOMER-4zvunsx3- :

Hello Ben,

JACUSTOMER-4zvunsx3- :

the alleged breach is related to 'hacking' of a university computer. The mental illness is a psychosis.

JACUSTOMER-4zvunsx3- :

I hope this assists.

Ben Jones :

OK thank you, please leave it with me. I need to look up a few things and then get my advice ready. I will post back on here when done. There is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded.

JACUSTOMER-4zvunsx3- :

thanks a lot.

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. There are certain discrimination laws in the UK, mainly the Equality Act 2010, which deals with how certain people and establishments treat those with conditions that amount to a disability. To establish if you are protected you just first be able to show that you have a disability.

In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled, they need to show that they meet the legal definition of a ‘disability’.

The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

I will break this definition down:

  • Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition;
  • Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;
  • Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;
  • Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. walking, driving, speaking, eating, washing, etc.)

If you believe your condition is a disability then you may have certain rights. It does not mean that any behaviour you do that is affected by the condition is excusable and you can do whatever you want and use this as a reason for your actions. The circumstances of the case will be relevant as well as what you did, how it was affected by your condition and so on. But when arguing about the allegations against you, you may raise this as a defence for what you did and ask that any punishment is reduced as a result.

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

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