Northern Ireland

Wheelchair user agrees out of court settlement with Value Cabs

Nicola Nesbit
Image caption Mrs Nesbit took the case because she felt she had been "treated differently" because she was disabled

A Belfast wheelchair user has agreed an out of court settlement after taking a disability discrimination case against Value Cabs.

Nicola Nesbit alleged she was charged more than a non-disabled person for using an accessible taxi. She said the firm charged her an £8 call-out fee in addition to a fare and a half.

Value Cabs paid Mrs Nesbit £2,000 without admission of liability.

Mrs Nesbit, who has cerebral palsy, said she was delighted by the outcome.

"I was outraged, as I felt that I was being treated differently because I am disabled," she said.

"I think it is important that all disabled people are aware that it is not fair to charge a disabled person more than an able bodied person for the same journey in the same vehicle, and that is why I decided to take this to court."

Mrs Nesbit, who usually travels by bus, needed to use taxis to travel to hospital appointments during her pregnancy.

She alleged that, because it was a wheelchair accessible vehicle, she was charged an £8 call-out charge on top of the fare and a half, bringing her fare to around £14 for the short, one-way trip.

'Reasonable adjustments'

Her case was supported by the Equality Commission.

Director of legal services at the Equality Commission, Anne McKernan said: "The Disability Transport Regulations require transport providers to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled people can have access to a service as close as it is reasonably possible to get to the standard normally offered to the general public.

"The law does not allow a transport provider to charge its disabled customers a higher price for the same journey in the same vehicle," she said.

"The fare for the larger vehicle should be the same for everyone.

"The costs of making reasonable adjustments are part of a transport provider's general expenses, just the same as complying with any other legislation.

"It is essential for all transport providers to make sure their staff are fully informed and operating their policies."

Value Cabs have agreed to liaise with the Equality Commission to review their policies and procedures, which they believe to be compliant with the law, and to implement any reasonable recommendations made by the commission.

The company has also agreed to communicate its policies and procedures to its staff at all grades through a training programme recommended by the commission.