A wheelchair on a ramp

Paulley v FirstGroup PLC


On 24 February 2012 wheelchair user Doug Paulley tried to board a FirstGroup bus from Wetherby to Leeds.

The driver asked him to wait, as the wheelchair space was currently taken by a mother with her sleeping child in a pushchair.

When the driver asked the woman to leave the space she refused, meaning Mr Paulley was unable to board the bus and missed a vital rail connection. 

The Commission's involvement

This was an important case for the Commission and this is reflected by the legal and financial support we gave to Mr Paulley at the Court of Appeal and at the Supreme Court.

For many disabled people public transport is a lifeline that enables them to get to work, go the shops and visit friends. In West Yorkshire alone disabled passengers made over 5 million bus journeys from 2012 to 2013.

What the law says

Under the Equality Act there is a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments where a disabled person is put at a disadvantage in comparison to a non-disabled person as a result of a rule or policy.

This duty requires a service provider, in this case a bus company, to take reasonable positive steps to ensure that disabled people can access its services. 

The service provider must anticipate use of its services by disabled people and take steps to avoid disadvantage. They should not wait until a disabled person wants to use the service before considering the responsibility to make reasonable adjustments. 

Last updated: 13 Aug 2019