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Disabled man takes wheelchair access case to the Supreme Court

Court of Appeal's decision over bus company's 'first come first served' policy to be scrutinised by justices

8 July 2015

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The Supreme Court is to consider what reasonable adjustments a bus company is required to make in order to accommodate disabled wheelchair users.

Doug Paulley, from Wetherby, was left unable to get on a First Group bus with his wheelchair in February 2012 when a woman with a pushchair refused to move.

A sign on the bus asked passengers occupying the wheelchair space to 'please give up this space if needed for a wheelchair user'. Upon being asked by the bus driver to move, pursuant to company policy, the woman - who had a baby in a pushchair - refused, saying that the buggy would not fold.

The driver took no further action and Paulley was unable to board the bus, significantly delaying his travel plans.

Paulley sued the First Group plc for unlawful discrimination and a judge at Leeds County Court ruled the 'first come first served' policy was unlawful discrimination in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

However, the Court of Appeal overturned the judgment, ruling that the 'proper remedy' for wheelchair users to get improvements, was to ask parliament to legislate on the matter.

Lawyers for Paulley argued in written submissions to the Supreme Court that the appeal judges' decision was 'wholly inconsistent with the policy of the Equality Act 2010'.

The Supreme Court has announced it has granted the appellant's application to appeal in a case that is expected to generate plenty of public interest.

A hearing date for this appeal has yet to be listed.


John van der Luit-Drummond is deputy editor for Solicitors Journal | @JvdLD

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