Supreme Court grants wheelchair user Paulley permission to appeal in landmark case


FirstGroup Plc v Paulley

The Supreme Court today (8 July) granted the Appellant Mr Paulley (represented by Cloisters’ barristers Robin Allen QC and Catherine Casserley) permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision in a case considering what reasonable adjustments a bus company is required to make in order to accommodate disabled wheelchair users.

The facts:

Mr Paulley, a permanent wheelchair user, attempted to board a bus operated by the Respondent FirstGroup Plc. 

A sign on the bus asked passengers occupying the wheelchair space to “please give up this space if needed for a wheelchair user”.

However on the day in question Mr Paulley was unable to board the bus because the designated wheelchair space was occupied by a woman with a baby in a pushchair who refused to move. Upon being asked by the bus driver to move, pursuant to company policy, she would not. 

The driver took no further action and Mr Paulley had to wait for the next bus which significantly delayed his journey.

Mr Paulley sued Firstgroup in the County Court alleging that its policy was discriminatory.

He was successful and the bus company was ordered to pay damages of £5,500 and to change its policy.

Firstgroup then successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal. Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was refused by the Court of Appeal, but Mr Paulley’s permission to appeal directly from the Supreme Court was successful.

The judgment being appealed is: [2014] EWCA Civ 1573

Funded by: Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Instructing solicitors: Unity Law. 

Press coverage:

BBC News:

Sky: Wheelchair bus row