The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 received Royal Assent on 7 April this year and will come into force on a staged basis. The 2005 Act makes a number of amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, (which has already been extended and amended). The original 1995 Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a disabled person in relation to employment, the provision of goods, facilities and services, and the disposal and management of premises, as well as making some provision concerning education, and for regulations to be made concerning accessibility of taxis, public service vehicles and rail vehicles for disabled people.
Principal to the provisions of the 2005 Act is the extension of the 1995 Act to the functions of public authorities. The 2005 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.
Commencement on 30 June 2005
The first raft of provisions came into force on 30 June 2005. These relate mainly to the power to make regulations, orders or bring rules of court into force on 30 June 2005, as well as enacting minor amendments to and repeals of parts of the 1995 Act. Included are powers to make regulations in relation to (i) the provisions concerning the letting of premises, for the purposes of Section 13 of the 2005 Act, and (ii) determining who is to be treated as being or not being a person who manages premises, and being or not being a person occupying premises. The application of Sections 19 to 21 (goods, facilities and services) of the 1995 Act is extended to transport vehicles.
Commencement on 5 December 2005
From this date, the definition of "disability" will be extended to include people with HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis, and the requirement that a mental illness must be clinically "well recognised" before it can be regarded as an impairment under the 1995 Act will be removed (Section 18 of the 2005 Act).
The provisions relating to discriminatory advertisements are amended to also impose liability on a third party, such as a newspaper who publishes a discriminatory advertisement, as well as the person placing the advertisement (Section 10 of the 2005 Act).
The provisions in the 1995 Act regarding provision of insurance services to employees under group insurance arrangements are repealed, to make it clear that a person who provides group insurance services to employees of particular employers would be regarded as a "provider of services" (Section 11 of the 2005 Act).
A question and reply procedure for complainants, like the one that applies to employment and occupation matters under the 1995 Act, will be introduced for matters relating to access to goods and services, public authorities, private clubs and premises. The procedure may be used by complainants, to assist them in determining whether to bring a claim or in bringing claims (Section 17 of the 2005 Act). The current prescribed forms of both the questionnaire and reply are set out The Disability Discrimination (Questions and Replies) Order 2004.
Private clubs with 25 or more members will come within the ambit of disability discrimination law, and it will be unlawful for such organisations to treat disabled people less favourably (Section 12 of the 2005 Act).
Public authorities and the Greater London Authority will also come within the scope of the Act and it will be unlawful for them to discriminate against their disabled members (Section 1 of the 2005 Act).
Provisions designed to clarify the position where discrimination by police officers under Part III of the 1995 Act is involved will also come into force (Section 4 of the 2005 Act).
Commencement on 4 December 2006
The new duties on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people will come into force (Section 4 of the 2005 Act) and other functions of public authorities which are not already covered by the 1995 Act are to come within its scope (Section 2 of the 2005 Act).
The provisions of Part III of the 1995 Act will be applied to land based public transport vehicles.
All rail vehicles will have to comply with rail vehicle accessibility regulations by 1 January 2020, and these regulations will be applied to refurbishment of all rail vehicles (Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the 2005 Act).
The duty of reasonable adjustment other than in respect of physical features will be extended to those who let or manage rented premises and to commonhold premises (the latter applicable only to England and Wales), to private clubs with 25 members or more and to local authorities and the Greater London Authority in respect of their disabled members.