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Bank challenges disability ruling

10 November 09 16:22 GMT

A bank has appealed against a landmark ruling that it failed to cater for the needs of a disabled teenager.

David Allen, who has muscular dystrophy, took action after Royal Bank of Scotland failed to put in wheelchair access at its branch in Sheffield.

The company was ordered to pay £6,500 in damages and given until the end of September this year to install a lift.

Richard Lissack QC, for RBS, told the Court of Appeal that the judge in the earlier ruling had got it wrong.

At a hearing at Sheffield County Court in January, Judge John Dowse ruled the bank had breached the Disability Discrimination Act.

'Extremely sorry'

Speaking at today's hearing, Mr Lissack said the judge had got it wrong in relation to the part of the Act concerning the duty of providers of services to make reasonable adjustments to help the disabled.

Mr Lissack said the bank was "acutely conscious" of the fact that Mr Allen was not well treated and was "extremely sorry".

He said: "The apology was made at trial and the wrong done to him was recognised by the bank in correspondence long before that."

He told the judges that, whatever the outcome of its appeal, RBS was not seeking to recover the damages payment or the costs of the appeal.

The bank said it had complied with the Disability Rights Commission's Code of Practice and that it had arranged access to three other branches.

The company also said it had offered Mr Allen the use of telephone or internet banking services.

But Mr Allen, a student at Sheffield Hallam University, said: "Despite everything, I still cannot get into my bank. It is clear that RBS won't provide disabled access until they are forced to by the courts."

The judges reserved their decision to a later date.

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