The Disability Discrimination Bill received Royal Assent on 7 April 2005 and will come into force on a date or dates to be specified. The Act makes significant amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, including extending the 1995 Act to the functions of public authorities. The Act also makes provision in relation to the exemption of transport vehicles from the provisions in the 1995 Act and, amongst a number of miscellaneous measures, brings into the scope of 1995 Act private clubs with 25 or more members, and imposes a duty to provide reasonable adjustments on landlords and others who manage rented premises.

A detailed summary of the provisions of the Act (during its Bill stage) appeared in Open Door of 18 February 2005. If you would like a copy of that edition of Open Door, please contact opendoor@shepwedd.co.uk

The full text of the Act is now available on the HMSO website at:
http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2005/20050013.htm

Disability Discrimination (Providers of Services) (Adjustment of Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2005

New regulations have been published which will amend paragraphs 1 and 3 of the Schedule to the Disability Discrimination (Providers of Services) (Adjustment of Premises) Regulations 2001. These regulations are required as a result of the coming into force of the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and the publication of the Technical Handbook for non-domestic buildings by Scottish Building Standards Agency. The regulations will come into force on 1 May 2005 when the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 also comes into force.

Section 21 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 provides that where a provider of services has a practice, policy or procedure which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled persons to make use of a service which he provides to other members of the public, he has a duty to take reasonable steps to change that practice, policy or procedure so that it no longer has that effect, and that where a physical feature (such as one arising from the design or construction of a building) makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled persons to make use of the service, the provider must take reasonable steps to remove the feature, or alter it so that it no longer has that effect, or provide a reasonable means of avoiding the feature; or provide a reasonable alternative method of making the service available to disabled persons.

The 2001 Regulations provide that it is not reasonable for a provider of services to have to remove or alter a physical feature of a building, for the purposes of Section 21, if that feature was provided in connection with a building for the purpose of assisting people to have access to that building, or to use facilities provided in the building, and it satisfies the "relevant design standard".

These 2005 regulations amend the definition of "relevant design standard" so that a physical feature will satisfy that standard if it was provided in or in connection with a building (i) on or after 30 June 1994 and before 1 May 2005, in accordance with the Technical Standards; or (ii) on or after 1 May 2005, in accordance with the new Technical Handbook.

However the exemption will not apply, such that a physical feature will not be deemed to satisfy the relevant design standard, where more than 10 years have elapsed since the date on which the construction or installation of the feature was completed, or where the physical feature was provided as part of a larger building project, the date when the works in relation to that project were completed.

Details of the 2005 Regulations are available from the HMSO website at:
http://www.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2005/20051121.htm and the 2001 Regulations are also available at:
http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2001/20013253.htm

The website of the Scottish Building Standards Agency provides online access to much of the documentation relevant to both the existing buildings standards system, and the new regime due to come into effect on 1 May 2005, including the Technical Handbook for non-domestic buildings.

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