The Supreme Court has published its judgement in the case of First Group Plc vs Paulley, a wheelchair user heard on appeal from the Court of Appeal. In a statement accompanying its judgement, the Supreme Court stated,
‘The issue in this appeal is the reasonable adjustments which a bus company is required to make to accommodate disabled wheelchair users. The appellant, a permanent wheelchair user, attempted to board a bus operated by FirstGroup Plc. A sign on the bus asked passengers occupying the wheelchair space to “please give up this space if needed for a wheelchair user”. On the day in question, the designated wheelchair space was occupied by a woman with a baby in a pushchair. Upon being asked by the bus driver to move, pursuant to company policy, she refused saying that the buggy would not fold. The driver took no further action and the appellant was unable to board the bus, which significantly delayed his travel plans. He sued the respondent for unlawful discrimination.’
‘The Supreme Court unanimously allows Mr Paulley’s appeal, albeit only to a limited extent. Lord Neuberger gives the lead judgment (with which Lord Reed agrees) allowing the appeal but only to the extent that FirstGroup’s policy requiring a driver to simply request a non-wheelchair user to vacate the space without taking any further steps was unjustified. Where a driver who has made such a request concludes that a refusal is unreasonable, he or she should consider some further step to pressurise the non-wheelchair user to vacate the space, depending on the circumstances.’
The case has generated reaction across the industry and Bus and Coach Buyer will feature further coverage in next week’s issue (1414, 27 January 2017).