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Firstgroup Plc v Paulley [2014] EWCA Civ 1573 (08 December 2014)

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  • Firstgroup Plc v Paulley [2014] EWCA Civ 1573 (08 December 2014)


    This appeal has attracted some public interest, so it is important to be clear about the issue. It is not about whether non-wheelchair users should move out of the wheelchair space on a bus in order to accommodate a passenger in a wheelchair. Of course they should if that is possible. Nor is it about whether mothers standing in the wheelchair space with a child in a folding buggy should fold their buggies in order to make way for a wheelchair user. Of course they should if that is possible. Non-wheelchair users, unlike wheelchair users, will normally have a choice about which part of the bus to sit or stand in. Common decency and respect for wheelchair users should mean that other passengers make way for them. What is at issue is whether the bus company must have a policy to compel all other passengers to vacate the wheelchair space irrespective of the reason why they are in it, on pain of being made to leave the bus if they do not, leaving no discretion to the driver.

    For the reasons that follow I have concluded that that is a step too far.

    The facts
    Mr Doug Paulley is a wheelchair user. On 24 February 2012 he arrived at the bus station at Wetherby at about 9.35 a.m. intending to catch the 99 bus to Leeds. According to the timetable, the bus was due to leave at 0936. The next scheduled buses were at 0956 and 1036 and then at 56 and 36 minutes past the hour. On arrival at Leeds he intended to catch the train to Stalybridge to meet his parents for lunch. The bus was already at the stand. It was a bus that was operated by a subsidiary of FirstGroup. It was equipped with a lowering platform and a wheelchair ramp. There is also a space provided for wheelchairs in the bus. When Mr Paulley attempted to board the bus the driver asked him to wait because the wheelchair space was occupied by a woman with a sleeping child in a pushchair. The driver asked her to move and to fold down her pushchair so that Mr Paulley, in his wheelchair, could use the space. She said that her pushchair did not fold down, and refused to move. Mr Paulley then asked whether he could fold down his wheelchair and use an ordinary passenger seat. The driver considered his request, but refused it, because there was no safe way of securing the wheelchair and the bus was to take a particularly winding route. Although Mr Paulley was a frequent bus user, this was the first time that he was unable to get on the bus because a pram or pushchair user refused to vacate the wheelchair space.


    It has to be accepted that our conclusion and reasoning in this case means that wheelchair users will occasionally be prevented by other passengers from using the wheelchair space on the bus. Sometimes there will be a reasonable justification for that happening; but sometimes there will not. I do not, however, believe that the fact that some passengers will – albeit rarely – act selfishly and irresponsibly is a sufficient reason for imposing on bus companies a legal responsibility for a situation which is not of their making and which they are not in a position to prevent. In the present state of the law something must still be left to the good sense and conscience of individuals.
    Last edited by Amethyst; 8th December 2014, 11:38:AM.
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  • #2
    Re: Firstgroup Plc v Paulley [2014] EWCA Civ 1573 (08 December 2014)

    This is back in Supreme Court today...

    In the present state of the law something must still be left to the good sense and conscience of individuals.

    Common Sense .... if in doubt, use it !

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    • #3
      Re: Firstgroup Plc v Paulley [2014] EWCA Civ 1573 (08 December 2014)

      I wonder when was the last time M'Lords (& M'Lady) used a bus?

      Things have changed a tad since this.

      This is only my opinion - "
      Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

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