Contact us
Show Site Navigation

UK signs important international disability treaty

The UK government has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

International disability treaty signed by UK Photo: istock

11 June 2009

Leigh Day & Co welcomes the news that the UK government has ratified an important international treaty that enshrines the rights of disabled people. The UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sets out in detail the rights of disabled people, and countries that sign the treaty commit themselves to developing and carrying out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in the Convention and to abolishing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The treaty covers a number of rights that include:

  • the rights of persons with disabilities to enjoy their right to life on an equal basis with others
  • the rights of children with disabilities to have equal rights and not be separated from their parents against their will
  • the rights of persons with disabilities to enjoy equal protection before the law
  • the rights of persons with disabilities to enjoy protection from discrimination on the basis of disability
  • the rights of persons with disabilities to have the equal right to own and inherit property, to control financial affairs and to have equal access to bank loans, credit and mortgages
  • the rights of persons with disabilities not to be deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.


Signatories to the Convention must, amongst other duties:

  • protect the physical and mental integrity of persons with disabilities
  • guarantee freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and prohibit medical or scientific experiments without the consent of the person concerned
  • ensure that laws and administrative measures must guarantee freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse. In case of abuse, States shall promote the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of the victim and investigate the abuse
  • identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers and ensure that persons with disabilities can access their environment, transportation, public facilities and services, and information and communications technologies
  • recognize the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection; this includes public housing, services and assistance for disability-related needs
  • allow the equal opportunity to experience parenthood, to marry and to found a family, to decide on the number and spacing of children, to have access to reproductive and family planning education and means, and to enjoy equal rights and responsibilities regarding guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children
  • ensure equal access to primary and secondary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning
  • ensure the right to the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability
  • ensure equal rights to work and gain a living of persons with disabilities
  • ensure equal participation in political and public life of persons with disabilities

Leigh Day & Co disability discrimination cases

Leigh Day & Co lawyers have considerable expertise in representing clients who have experienced discrimination on the grounds of disability by public authorities, education services, health services, the prison service, transport companies and employers.

Examples of their work include:

  • successfully representing elderly and disabled people in Hammersmith whose direct payments were frozen by the council without proper consideration of their needs
  • successfully representing a disabled prisoner who had not been allocated a disabled cell, or a motorised wheelchair
  • succeeding in a claim for unlawful disability discrimination against a mainstream school who had discriminated against a client with cerebral palsy by excluding him from the wider life of the school, for example by failing to make special provision to include him on school trips, and by failing to differentiate his work
  • representing MENCAP and the families of six vulnerable adults with learning disabilities whose deaths were the subject of Death by indifference
  • successfully representing employees who have been discriminated on the grounds of disability
  • successfully representing a client with Aspersers' syndrome who was asked to leave a shop without reason
  • successfully representing a client in his claim against a holiday company, where the client was assured that the accommodation was suitable for his mobility needs, only to later find that the accommodation was not suitable.

Alison Millar, a partner in the human rights team at Leigh Day & Co, said:

"We are pleased that the UK Government has signed this important international human rights Convention for disabled people. However, as the Equality Bill goes through Parliament, we also look to the Government to pass an Act which will make equality a reality for the many disabled people who struggle with discrimination in their day to day lives."

For more information please contact Alison Millar on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Share this page: Print this page