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Eversheds comment: Disability case to define whether robust enforcement of priority policies is needed

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    Commenting on the case of wheelchair user Doug Paulley v FirstGroup, Simon Rice-Birchall, partner at Eversheds, says:

    "Earlier decisions of the courts have come to conflicting views as to the extent to which organisations must take pro-active steps to counter disadvantage to disabled passengers. Whilst the law is clear that the duty upon businesses is a positive one, this case has questioned just how far employers must go in this regard. For example, is it enough to merely have a “priority policy”? Must businesses also place notices on vehicles highlighting that policy? Or, must there be robust enforcement, requiring individual drivers and transport staff to confront non-disabled passengers to enforce the rights of disabled passengers?

    "There have been a couple of challenges to the way in which wheelchair users access the transport sector in recent years, but in the next few weeks it seems likely service-providers will receive legal clarification from the Supreme Court regarding the extent to which problems with accessing their services may amount to disability discrimination.

    "Transport operators will await the outcome of the case with keen interest but will also need to be prepared to respond quickly to the legal and practical clarifications that are likely to ensue."


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