Disability Discrimination Act 1995

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By David Clifton, part of thePublican.com's legal team of experts from London solicitors Joelson WilsonJust under two weeks ago, the Disability...

By David Clifton, part of thePublican.com's legal team of experts from London solicitors Joelson Wilson

Just under two weeks ago, the Disability Rights Commission published a new, revised code of practice on rights of access to goods, facilities, services and premises for disabled people.

This code should not be ignored if you run a pub, because on October 1 2004 the final stages of the Act will come into force, imposing new duties on businesses to make "reasonable adjustments" to their premises where physical features make access to their services impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people.

The code is important because since December 2 1996 it has been unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability.

Since October 1 1999 service providers have had to make "reasonable adjustments" for disabled people, such as providing extra help or making changes to the way they provide their services.

If you think about it, all sorts of physical features within or outside a building could potentially cause insurmountable problems for disabled people. As the code says, "it would be sensible to plan ahead and to apply for any necessary consents before October 1 2004" so that any physical alterations needed can be made before then.

The code offers guidance on removing, altering or providing a reasonable means of avoiding an offending physical feature. It also explains how building regulations and lease terms might affect the statutory duty to make "reasonable adjustments" and the limited circumstances in which a service provided might justify less favourable treatment of a disabled person.

As such, I can think of no better bedtime reading material! To get your own copy either place an order with your local branch of The Stationery Office (price £13.95) or download it from the Disability Rights Commission website at www.drc-gb.org.

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