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The Impact Of The Disability Discrimination Act On Your Business

Danny Revitt, partner in property litigation at Irwin Mitchell discusses the Disability Discrimination Act and its impact on your business


All businesses need to be aware of the many provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) but it is especially relevant for those that deal with public access, for example restaurants, night clubs, and retailers.

A recent case could potentially have a massive impact both from the perspective of businesses and those with disabilities who use the services of the businesses.

In 2004, the provisions of the DDA were extended to require businesses to make reasonable adjustments to premises to ensure that disabled people can use their services. There was much speculation at the time as to the impact of this legislation.

Since then however, there has been a general lack of judicial decisions on these provisions until the recent case in Sheffield of 17-year-old David Allen against the Royal Bank of Scotland.

This case attracted national media coverage following the Court's decision to order the bank to install a platform lift at an estimated cost of £200,000 and has brought the impact of the DDA back into the spotlight for businesses. The Court of Appeal will consider the case again later this year.

Previously, the potential impact of an adverse finding against a business under this aspect of the DDA was thought to be limited to the attendant bad publicity and a limited award for compensation.

However, if the courts now begin to follow the precedent set in the Allen case of ordering businesses to carry out the necessary adjustments, then businesses could be hit hard financially.

The decision sends a strong signal to all businesses that they must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people aren't treated less favourably.

It is important that businesses are aware of their responsibilities regarding this area of law, in order to protect the reputation of the business and avoid potentially significant financial penalties.

To discuss the Disability Discrimination Act or any other aspect of property litigation email Danny Revitt (danny.revitt@irwinmitchell.com) or call 0114 274 4439.