Creating a fairer Britain
31 July 2009
The High Court has overturned a decision by Liverpool City Council not to license a particular type of accessible taxi. The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened in the case.
The Court has ruled the Council should start its decision making process again. The Court noted the Council's Equality Impact Assessment had been inadequate and that errors of fundamental fact had been made by the decision-making Committee which had not taken much of the evidence on board.
Alma Lunt, a wheelchair user, brought the claim against the Liverpool City Council after they refused to license the Peugeot E7 class taxi. This taxi is more comfortable and safer for wheelchair users than the TX2 taxi currently in use. The E7 is currently licensed to operate in more than 400 authorities throughout the country.
The Commission argued that the Council's decision was unlawful as it discriminated against disabled people contrary to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It also argued that the process leading to the decision was flawed and unfair and the Equality Impact Assessment carried out by the Council as part of the decision-making process was defective.
The Court agreed and also said that it had been assisted by the Commission in drawing attention to the relevant Codes of Practice.
Susie Uppal, Director of Legal Enforcement at the Commission, said:
"Access to public transport, and taxis in particular, is a fundamental issue for disabled people and essential to them in order to access the same opportunities as non-disabled people.
"For many years, disabled people in cities such as Birmingham, Glasgow and Cardiff have been able to travel in safe, efficient and convenient E7 taxis. It is only right that the people of Liverpool may now have that same opportunity."
The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.
The UK Parliament has recognised the value of the Commission's expertise, imposing on it an obligation to intervene in certain legal proceedings by virtue of section 30 of the Equality Act 2006.
The Commission takes a strategic approach when deciding to intervene. It will generally intervene in cases where it can use its expertise to clarify or challenge an important element of the law. The cases generally involve serious matters of public policy or general public concern. The outcome of these cases often has a wide impact as they set precedents to be followed by the lower courts.