High Court to deliver Judgment in “Landmark” Natasha Abrahart Case against University of Bristol

At 10:45am on Wednesday 14 February 2024 the High Court will release its judgment in a long running case against the University of Bristol brought by the father of Natasha Abrahart, an undergraduate student who took her own life in 2018. Natasha’s parents, Robert and Margaret Abrahart, will read a statement outside of the Bristol Registry of the High Court (Bristol Civil
Justice Centre, 2 Redcliff St, Redcliffe, Bristol BS1 6GR) shortly after the judgment is released.

Requests to receive copies of the judgment, once it has been released by the court, can be made to bristoladmin@dpglaw.co.uk.

The judgment arises from the University’s appeal against a 20 May 2022 ruling by the Bristol County Court that the University contributed to Natasha’s death by discriminating against her on the grounds of disability contrary to the Equality Act 2010. The appeal was heard by Mr Justice Linden sitting in Bristol on 11 to 13 December 2023.

Natasha Abrahart’s body was found in her private flat in April 2018 on the day she was due to give a presentation to fellow University of Bristol students and staff in a 329-seat lecture theatre. She was at least the tenth student at the University of Bristol to take their own life since October 2016.

In May 2022 a senior County Court judge found that 20-year-old physics student Natasha Abrahart had taken her own life as the result of multiple breaches of the Equality Act 2010 by the University of Bristol amounting to disability discrimination. These breaches related to the requirement that Natasha, who had been diagnosed with chronic social anxiety disorder, had to take part in oral assessments. The University was ordered to pay over £50,000 in damages, which included the costs of Natasha’s funeral.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission was granted permission to intervene in the appeal, which it described as “a landmark legal case” with “broader equality implications”.

The High Court also considered a cross appeal brought by Natasha’s father against a ruling that the University did not owe her a duty of care under the law of negligence.

Notes for editors:

1. Natasha Abrahart’s family are represented by Gus Silverman and Pragnya Iovine of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, and by Jamie Burton KC and Sarah Steinhardt of Doughty Street Chambers.

2. Gus Silverman joined Deighton Pierce Glynn in September 2023 from Irwin Mitchell where he previously represented the Abraharts.

3. A press release regarding the County Court’s judgment in Abrahart v University of Bristol can be found here.

4. The judgment in Abrahart v University of Bristol can be found here.

5. A press release issued by the EHRC can be found here.

6. Request for photographs, interviews and further information should be directed to bristoladmin@dpglaw.co.uk.

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