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How fair is the law when you’re poor?

It’s not easy for an amateur to battle against the legal system and professional lawyers, but single mum and former pizza chef Jennifer Sammut faced that adversary for what she believes was the right thing to do.

The 28-year-old, with an 18-month-old daughter, is on a low income and couldn’t afford professional legal representation when she decided to take her former employers Pizza Express to a tribunal claiming pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

She faced her opponents in senior management, and their qualified and articulate advocate, with courage and gave as good as she got – if a little wayward and irrelevant at times because of her inexperience.

She delivered her cross examination with intelligence, passion and gritty determination to try and prove her case and said after the hearing that she felt it was the right thing to do.

Her former employers denied all the allegations.

She brought her claim in July 2012 before the introduction of fees for tribunal hearings came in April 2013. She would not be able to afford the payment today.

If forced to pay she would have had to abandon her case and she would have felt that justice was not heard.

Whether justice is done remains to be seen until the Tribunal panel in Lincoln decides the outcome in May based on all the evidence they have read and heard.

Government made the changes to Tribunals in a bid to help small businesses which claimed too often cases with no merit were brought before Tribunal hearings.

This led to high costs in responding to action brought against them — or expensive settlements to avoid the costs of legal action that might be brought against them.

Unions say people who feel badly treated at work should have an easy and affordable means of redress and they are against the changes.

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