New Judgment: FirstGroup Plc v Paulley  UKSC 4
18 Wednesday Jan 2017
On appeal from  EWCA Civ 1573.
This case considers the reasonable adjustments a bus company is required to make to accommodate disabled wheelchair users. The Supreme Court unanimously allowed Mr Paulley’s appeal, albeit to a limited extent. The Court held 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 majority of the Court, however, declined to uphold the award of damages to the appellant.
The Court considered that, due to the “reasonable adjustments” required to be made by a “public service provider” such as the respondent under the Equality Act 2010, s 29, the policy of FirstGroup should have required the driver to take further steps than he did in requesting that the space be vacated for Mr Paulley as a wheelchair user. However, as it would not have been justified to require this as an absolute rule, there is a prospect that further steps would not have ensured that Mr Paulley was not placed at the disadvantage he was, and therefore an award of damages was not considered possible.
To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website.