It has long been billed the #wheelchair v buggy case. Today the UK Supreme Court found in favour of wheelchair user #Doug Paulley, underlining the responsibility of bus companies, like FirstGroup, to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people pursuant to the #Equality Act 2010.
Reluctant flag-bearer for a cause
Doug Paulley appeared to be relieved at the end of a long running case - that came about when he was refused entry onto a bus because a lady with a sleeping baby occupied the space designated for wheelchair users. Paulley, in a BBC interview outside the court, with a little exasperation in his voice, talked about the impact this case has had on him and the universal implications of the decision:
"My mum sadly died last summer and didn't get to see the end of this - five years... This is hopefully going to make a major difference to disable peoples' travel."
What this judgement means
The case centered around the requirement to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people, under the Equality Act 2010.
All but one of the justices in this case, strongly suggested that whilst bus companies cannot be forced to make people move from a space designated for wheelchair users - they will have to do more than they appear to be doing at the moment. However,one of the Justices suggested that there was the power to move people, so further clarification from the courts may not be far away, as it does leave the door open for other cases on this issue. Drivers need to make a decision of whether or not someone is being: "unreasonable" in refusing to move.
Whilst this long-running case has provided some much needed clarification on the duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. There will be some uncomfortable meetings between bus drivers and their bosses about the practical implications of this judgement. Given the recent rail strikes and disruption that has led to overcrowding on buses. Bus drivers will feel under increasing pressure to avoid trouble from unsettled passengers who are squeezed onto a cramped bus, especially given the increasing rises in bus fares. The issue is far from over.