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Supreme Court hears ground-breaking disability discrimination case

The Supreme Court has heard the first ever case concerning disability discrimination in the provision of services, after a disabled man was denied access to boarding a bus.


Doug Paulley first took legal action against First Bus in 2012 after being told he was unable to board a bus as the designated space for wheelchair users was taken by a lady with her child in a pushchair, and the driver refused to ask her to move.


After he won the original County Court case, the decision was overturned on appeal, which led to Paulley taking the case to the Supreme Court funded by the Equality & Human Rights Commision.


He said, “It’s not right that I, and other wheelchair users, should be nervously looking to see if anybody is in the wheelchair space and wondering what will happen. This can cause a great deal of distress. Wheelchair spaces are the only place on the bus that wheelchair users can travel in; if they aren’t available, wheelchair users can’t travel. This is the single biggest barrier experienced by wheelchair users when accessing transport, and most wheelchair users experience this.


“Bus companies need to have clear policies so that we can have a culture where non-disabled people automatically move to other areas. More needs to be done to ensure that this space is available to wheelchair users when needed.”

A ruling on the case is expected before the end of the year.




Unity Law – First Group PLC v Paulley – Supreme Court, 15th June 2016 Court 1

Unity Law – Quotes from interested parties for the press to use in First Group plc v Doug Paulley, Supreme Court, 14th June 2016

Disability News Service – Bus wheelchair space case makes history at Supreme Court

Equality & Human Rights Commission – Wheelchair spaces on buses must be available to disabled people, bus companies told