Social media: let's jump on the bandwagon
A few weeks ago, the promoters of pop band Little Mix were sued under the Equality Act 2010 for failing to make reasonable adjustments in the form of providing a British Sign Language interpreter for a deaf concertgoer. The Claimant, a deaf mother, sued the promoters of the band for not supplying an interpreter for the two supporting acts, therefore not enabling her to experience the concert in the same way as everybody else.
In the days following this news, social media comments were shared left, right and centre. Amongst the wide-ranging views, one question was asked again and again: why sue the promoters? Why the need for court action?
Social media has become the fastest way for information and opinions to be spread. A news story can break in the morning, and by the evening thousands of personal views will have been formed and shared across multiple online platforms. It can seem that everyone has become an expert on whatever issue is under debate. Social media can encourage and promote litigation; some even say that social media treats litigation as an act of responsibility. Naming and shaming a wrong-doer in a high profile matter will set a public example for everyone else. It is necessary. It is your duty. While the threat of legal action can perhaps have positive outcomes, and maybe the subsequent example that such action sets can deter other potential wrongdoers, how far should this go?
It is widely acknowledged that the threat of litigation is becoming increasingly detrimental to vital public service providers. Professionals, such as doctors and teachers, are unable to undertake tasks without the threat of legal action hanging over their heads, the effect of which is to impede their ability to do their jobs. The climate of oppressive accountability, the increasing tendency to pull the trigger and have one’s day in court, is having highly undesirable consequences.
The statistics are ugly. From April to June 2017, the UK had the highest quarterly number of County Court claims lodged since 2009 in the UK. Of these, money claims were up by 54% from the previous year. Of course one cannot blame social media. But does access to a sometimes toxic network of opinions through social media have a part to play? Yes, I think so.
It remains to be seen how far the Little Mix case will go. Some will say it is an absurdly ill-conceived claim. A complaint about the absence of sign language interpreters for the support acts? Come on, get over it they will say. Others will say that the Claimant has suffered a grave wrong and that she deserves justice. Whatever your views, feel free to share them on social media. After all, the bandwagon will keep rolling onwards.