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Driver Need Not Enforce Wheelchair Space on Bus, Rules Court

The Supreme Court has ruled on the long-running dispute between First Bus and a disabled passenger who sued the bus company after a driver declined to intervene when a passenger occupying the wheelchair space refused to move.

The disabled passenger, who is in a wheelchair, found the designated space on the bus occupied by a young mother and her sleeping baby. The mother refused to move on the ground that the baby's buggy would not fold up.

The Court took a very practical view and specifically considered the range of responses which would be practical in the circumstances. In conditions such as these, the Court was of the view that a request to move, followed by a short stop to try to persuade the occupant to move if their response seemed unreasonable, was all that could reasonably be expected of the driver.

The law relating to what must be done to accommodate people with a disability is, in many instances, quite specific, although in this case the Court took the view that to push the transport provider's responsibilities too far might lead to matters spiralling out of control.

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