Landmark decision on disability access
Disabled customers have a right to enter your building and you have a duty to help them, even if they can get all the services you provide on-line or elsewhere.
Service providers in Britain have a legal duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' to ensure that people are not prevented from using their services because they have a disability.
Since October 2004, service providers have had a specific duty to make reasonable adjustments to the physical features of their premises to overcome physical barriers to access that prevent disabled people from using their services, or make it unreasonably difficult for them to do so.
Five years on, we have a landmark Court of Appeal decision on the extent and penalties for failing to comply with that duty. In a test case, the Court of Appeal has upheld a County Court ruling that a bank failed to comply with its duty by not providing wheelchair access at one of its 2,300 branches. The Court of Appeal ordered it to pay £6,500 in damages and to carry out £200,000 worth of building works. The fact that 'banking' services were accessible via internet, telephone and other branches with wheelchair access was not sufficient for compliance with the duty imposed under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
So what is the extent of the access to premises duty and what is the impact of the Court of Appeal's decision?
This alert may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not give legal advice.