While County Court judgments aren’t binding, they can be persuasive and useful in other cases. County Court judgments can be difficult to find as they are not routinely provided in a written form, meaning an EX107 form and a fee often have to be paid to get Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to transcribe them.
Reasonable Access would like to thank the people who have allowed us to publish their case judgments here or have put them in the public domain so that we can link to them. We will upload our own hosted judgments in Microsoft Word and PDF formats to be as widely accessible as possible. Linked judgments may only be in limited formats but if you have difficulties accessing them, let us know via our Contact Us page and we’ll try and convert them to a suitable format.
Reasonable Access hosted judgments
These are currently listed with most recent at the top.
Lynn Stewart Taylor and 275 others v The Cabinet Office aka #WhereIsTheInterpreter cases
Judgment delivered in the Central London County Court in written form (in person and remote) on 17th March 2023 by District Judge Dight.
This judgment was only about whether the case taken by 276 deaf people about lack of government Covid information in British Sign Language (BSL) was ‘bought to the court’ correctly and on time.
The Claimant’s lawyers paid their case claim fee 6.5 months after the limitation date. The judge explored the evidence and caselaw in detail and decided the claim was out of time. As there was no ‘reasonable excuse’ for being out of time, the case had to be struck out (ended).
- Lynn Stewart Taylor and 275 others v The Cabinet Office strikeout judgment [PDF]
- Lynn Stewart-Taylor explains the strikeout in BSL [2min45 video, BSL only]
- Limping Chicken deaf blog site announces the #WITI strikeout in English with Signly BSL translation by deaf translators
- Natalya’s March 2023 simple English summary of judgment [Google doc] (now with added links to relevant judgment paragraphs)
After the strikeout
After the strikeout, an April 2023 court order made Lynn and the other Claimants liable for £37,076.83 of the Defendant’s (government’s) costs which is normal after a strike out of any claim. District Judge Dight allowed the Claimants and SCOMO to apply for a ‘Wasted Costs Order’ against Fry Law and Chris Fry, which is only allowed where a court has evidence that a legal professional has made errors.
Reynolds et al v Live in the UK Ltd aka Little Mix case
Judgment delivered in the Central London County Court (remote via video) on 30th September 2020 by District Judge Avent.
Outcome: A declaration of discrimination damages of £5000 for each claimant and costs in principle were awarded. In practice, costs were not expected as the defendant had gone into voluntary liquidation before the final hearing.
Sally, Victoria and Sarah who are all deaf sign language users went to a Little Mix concert with their 8 year old daughters who are all hearing. Sally emailed the concert provider to request BSL/English interpreters be provided. The concert provider was hostile and refused to provide interpreters, making excuses and trying to fob Sally off with carers’ tickets and telling them to bring their own interpreters. Sally sought support from the now defunct Fry Law who threatened to apply for an interim injunction (a legal order) to provide an interpreter 2 days before the concert. In the face of litigation, the concert provider arranged for an interpreter, but only for the headline act Little Mix, not the 2+ hours of support acts. Other concert/event information was not provided in an accessible way to Sally, Sarah and Victoria who could not hear the auditory announcements or support acts.
The judge noted that the concert promoter for treating Sally poorly when she requested interpreters. Sally, Victoria and Sarah were all found to be disabled as deaf people, their use of any combination of hearing aids, cochlear implants and lipreading only gave them very limited access to the concert. The judgment explores the challenges of providing interpretation of live music events and ways problems can be mitigated by concert providers. Costs were discussed and found to be very small in context of the overall budgets for concerts. The judge criticised the concert promoter for not having ever considered deaf BSL users’ access to music events prior to Sally’s requests in light of the duty to making reasonable adjustments being anticipatory.
Lawson v Clemitshaw (t/a Abbey Wharf Restaurant)
Judgment delivered at York county Court on the 28th February 2020. Case was in the Small Claims Track.
Outcome: A declaration of discrimination, injunction for either a platform stair lift or a vertical platform lift, and combined damages for injury to feelings of £7,500, plus expenses.
The claim was brought by Ian Lawson who is a wheelchair user. The restaurant is based on the first floor of a listed building in Whitby overlooking the harbour. It removed a stairlift when refurbishing the property but did not install a replacement means of access for mobility impaired customers. Despite numerous attempts by Mr Lawson to discuss with Mr Clemitshaw an amicable way forward the defendant did not respond. Following the judgement the defendant subsequently agreed to contribute towards the costs of the expert witness that Mr Lawson paid, and paid travel and accommodation costs as well as reimbursing the court fees.
Tse v Aviva Life Services
Judgment delivered at Slough County Court on 2nd April 2019.
Outcome: Declaration that Aviva had failed to make reasonable adjustments for disability – specifically failing to provide correspondence in accessible formats. Damages for injury to feelings of £3,300 for 3 instances of escalating seriousness.
Doug Paulley v London Underground Ltd
Judgment delivered at Leeds County Court on 10th January 2019.
Outcome: Finding of discrimination, and combined damages of £1,800 for injury to feelings over two cases.
Two separate incidents with broken lifts causing issue on London Underground at Westminster tube station and Kings Cross were captured by Doug on (subtitled) videos. The separate legal cases were combined into a single court hearing. District Judge Troy’s judgment goes into detail about the sorts of reasonable adjustments London Underground should take to inform disabled people of unplanned lift closures and how to respond when disabled people are stranded as a result. It is also clear that providing statistics and quotes about the number of disabled people from Doug’s Supreme Court case was influential.
Esther Leighton vs Mr Yeter Kahraman (T/A Carlos BBQ)
Judgment delivered at Cambridge County Court on 8th November 2017.
Outcome: Declaration and £6,000 damages for injury to feelings.
Carlos BBQ was an independent takeaway and cafe with a threshold step. No portable ramp was provided to enable wheelchair users to safely cross the threshold. The judgment is clear that Mr Kahraman’s offer to assist electric wheelchair user over the threshold is inappropriate; physically putting letters in the claimant’s electric wheelchair” is harassment and the fact that the disabled claimant has made made multiple legal complaints as part of a campaign for access doesn’t change the fact that she was discriminated against.
Links to County or Sheriff Court Judgments in Public Domain
Maynard v ITV PLC
Judgment delivered at Salisbury County Court on 30th April 2019
Outcome: Maynard’s case was struck out and costs of £11,000 were bought against him.
Mr Maynard (a profoundly deaf man who also has other impairments) bought this case as a Litigant in Person because a ‘simulcast’ service called ‘ITV Hub’ which provided video on demand also broadcast live programmes through their app or webpage which did not have subtitles. Mr Maynard who felt that like TV live broadcasts, subtitles should be available.
ITV argued their simulcast service is a ‘Content Service’ as defined by the Communications Act 2003 and that Schedule 3 of the Equality Act 2010 lists a number of exemptions including television, radio and on-line broadcasting. The Explanatory Notes to the Equality Act, Part 8 (paragraphs 746 and 747) also say claims of discrimination cannot be bought over issues relating to broadcasting and content distribution as defined in the Communications Act 2003.
This case had no prospect of success. Mr Maynard had sought and received permission not to attend court due to his deafness and unspecified disabilities, which meant he was unable to challenge the ITV barrister’s request for over £13,000 in costs. The high costs were justified on the grounds that had the claim succeeded it could have cost ITV a lot more, so ITV used expensive solicitors and barristers to strongly defend the claim.
Smailes & Poyner-Smailes v Clewer Court Residents Ltd
Judgment delivered on 20th January 2019 at Cardiff County Court
Outcome: Declaration that the Equality Act section 20(3) (failure to make reasonable adjustments) and Section 26 (harassment) was breached. Remedy still to be decided.
Critical to show that landlords (leaseholders) refusing to allow a disabled person to make adaptations to their home may be unlawful. Case was funded by the Equality Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to clarify the law.
Mrs Poyner-Smailes and her husband Mr Smailes bought a flat in a building which had been converted to flats. They requested permission to adapt the flat for Mrs Poyner-Smailes’s disability needs. Despite other residents being allowed to make adaptations, the Smailes and Poyner-Smailes’s requests were refused with Clewer asking for increasingly intrusive proof of disability and reports to prove the adaption works would not cause disruption to others. Representatives of Clewer also harassed Mr Smailes and Mrs Poyner-Smailes in how they handled requests and the complaint.
Plummer v Royal Herbert Freehold Ltd
Judgment delivered at Central London County Court on 6th June 2018
Outcome: Declaration that Royal Herbert failed to make reasonable adjustments and indirectly discriminated against James Plummer. £9,000 damages for injury to feelings including aggravating factors of Royal Herbert refusing to engage over a very long period of time.
James Plummer has Multiple Sclerosis. In 2010 he and his wife purchased a luxury apartment with an on-site leisure club that had a heated swimming pool, which James hoped to use regularly as a safe physical activity he could do. There were access difficulties with the leisure club and several requests to the Royal Herbert the management company were refused. In 2014 James submitted costings for the adjustments which came to around £5,000 + VAT. At the same time the management company received a £78,000 rebate on overpaid business rates, but still adaptation requests were refused. Royal Herbert also sent round a survey to residents asking for their opinion on James’s requests while biasing opinion by emphasising cost as a reason for the dispute.
This judgment is important because it shows that some activities of a property management company are not exempt from the Equality Act duty to make reasonable adjustments because they’re a landlord, but some activities may be ‘service provision’, which is not exempt. As well as failing to make adjustments for James’s access needs as a disabled service user, Royal Herbert were found to have a policy of only spending money on the club if it benefited all residents, which disadvantages disabled people more than non-disabled people so is indirectly discriminatory.
Blamires v Local Government Ombudsman (LGO)
Judgment delivered at Leeds Combined Court Centre on 21st June 2017
Outcome: Declaration that the LGO breached Sections 15, 19, 20 and 29 of the Equality Act and the 4th and 7th principles of the Data Protection Act 1998. £12,500 damages (Data Protection breaches £2,500, injury to feelings of £7,500 (which was then middle band) and aggravated damages of £2,500 for how the LGO behaved throughout the legal process) as well as costs.
The LGO lost Blamires’ request for reasonable adjustments to access LGO services when dealing with her complaint against her local council and then refused to meet face to face to resolve issues. Blamires was then unable to effectively make her case against the council.
Disability Discrimination Act judgments
While the Disability Discrimination Acts (there were several, the original 1995 Act, and amendments in 2001, 2005 and more) were replaced by the Equality Act 2010, they can still be useful for legal principles, ideas and historical interest. So where we have obtained judgments, we share those below.
Langdon v Webster (2008)
Judgment delivered at Kingston upon Hull County Court on 26th March 2008.
Outcome: Award of damages of £5,000 for failure to make reasonable adjustments to the physical features of a golf club to provide wheelchair access. This was exacerbated by the respondent (Mr Webster) not responding to pre-legal phonecalls or letters, not filing a defence or attending court.
Mr Langdon, a wheelchair user tried to get entry to Sutton Park Golf Club where his sister was holding an event. He was unable to get access to the building or toilets as they were not accessible to wheelchair users.
This judgment has suggestions of relevant judgments and cases as well as Vento damages amounts citing Purves v Joydisc.