In a recent case the Court of Appeal shed light on the extent to which a provider of services must make provision for disabled access to buildings from which services are provided.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires providers of services to make “reasonable adjustments” to provide for disabled access but offers no guidance on what is reasonable. What is now clear is that larger businesses, including public bodies, have to go much further than previously expected to meet this requirement.
The case concerned access to a branch of RBS by Mr Allen, a wheelchair user. Whilst physically possible to install wheelchair access the bank faced some difficult issues - the building is listed, the cost of installation of a wheelchair lift was estimated to be £200,000 and the bank would lose one of its eight interview rooms.
The Court of Appeal nonetheless upheld the lower court’s decision that RBS had not made reasonable adjustments and ought to have anticipated the need for such a means of access. RBS must now carry out the necessary works and pay Mr Allen £6,500 in damages and costs.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc v Allen (2009) EWCA Civ 1213