Castle Owen
Project Details

On 20th November 2009; The Court of Appeal upheld the rights of an 18-year old wheelchair user to have access to in-branch banking services in the case of David Allen v The Royal Bank of Scotland. 

Richard Owen of Castle Owen was the jointly appointed expert to advise upon the technical feasibility of improving access to the Church Street Branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Richard was selected for this important commission because of his qualification as a Chartered Building Surveyor and NRAC Registered Access Consultant, and also his experience with other major high street banks. 

The case was brought by David Allen, a wheelchair user claiming discrimination under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. David was unable to gain access to the main banking hall due to the difference in level between the foot way and the internal ground floor, which is overcome by a flight of steps. The instruction from the two parties required us to inspect the property and produce a detailed report investigating the feasibility of improving access of the premises for a wheelchair user. The report included advice in relation to cost, disruption and technical feasibility. The report concluded that there was a viable option for improving access to the branch which was referred to extensively in the Court of Appeal. 

Lord Justice Dyson: “The question of the reasonableness of the Owen Scheme was, therefore, a central issue in the case”.

 I have been very satisfied by the quality and clarity of your report and I can say also that the bank’s technical witnesses also stated that they were very impressed when they gave evidence in court. 

Douglas Johnson, Sheffield Law Centre 

The duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 have since been included within the Equality Act 2010. This Act prohibits discrimination related to disability in the fields of employment, education, good facilities and services and public authority functions. The Act requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to their services so as to provide as closer service as possible to that provided to other members of the public.

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