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Important disability discrimination case decided

David Allen has succeeded in his disability discrimination claim against the Royal Bank of Scotland

Important disability discrimination case decided Photo: istock

20 January 2009

David Allen, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, has succeeded with his landmark claim against the Royal Bank of Scotland who have been ordered by a judge to install a lift in one of their branches so that wheelchair users can access the building. Allen has also been awarded £6,500 in compensation for the embarrassing treatment that he received from the bank.

The judge heard at Sheffield County Court on 19 January 2009 that Allen, a wheelchair user, was unable to access the bank even though signs on the building indicated that this was possible. He was forced to discuss his financial details in the street, breaching his right to confidentiality. Royal Bank of Scotland suggested instead that he use another branch, some 10 miles away.

Judge Dowse disagreed with the bank’s argument that it had compiled with the Disability Right’s Commission’s code of practice saying that “it has not covered itself in glory”. He ruled that the bank discriminated against Mr. Allen by not providing physical access to wheelchair users in its Sheffield city centre branch, and that the bank made no serious attempts to make the branch accessible to wheelchair users as required under the law. The bank now has until the end of September to install a platform lift.

This case is important because for the first time as well as awarding damages for injury to feelings the court made an order for injunctive relief - ordering the bank to make the adjustments required by the Disability Discrimination Act. The judge ordered the bank to make their premises accessible by installing a lift in the next few months. As a result ensures that in future this disabled customer will be able to access his local bank like non-disabled customers already can.

Sheffield Law Centre represented David Allen, they were funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to bring the case.

Chris Benson, Sean Humber and Alison Millar, partners in the Human Rights Department all have substantial experience of advising disabled people who have experienced discrimination in employment, education and access to every day services such as banks, shops and restaurants. Sean also specialises in meeting the access needs of disabled prisoners. For more information please contact the human rights department at Leigh Day & Co 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.

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