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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have a question regarding the Equality Act in respect of

Resolved Question:

I have a question regarding the Equality Act in respect of a Bridge Club. It is in connection with setting a bridge movement for a competition that does not accommodate all abled bodied players. Is this your area of expertise?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Is this in relation to UK law? (I just see that your location is stated as the US so need to check)

Customer:

We are a bridge club in Warwickshire - UK. We have a number of players who request a permanently seated position thoughout the evening because of various disabilities - some more obvious than others. Sometimes this affects the Bridge Movement for the competition because we cannot accommodate the number of players who wisht to remain seated and we can find other Movements that accommodate this, even though they might not satisfy the purists! My question as a senior Committee member is:-

Customer:

can we discriminate against the people who cannot move by setting a Movement that we know that cannot do? Is this discrimination?

Customer:

BTW - I HAVE to leave here at 11.25 so if we haven't finished, can I continue this afternoon?

Customer:

Meg

Ben Jones :

ok no problem, I will post my response on here and you can view it any time later

Customer:

Thanks Ben - going out now and will spend more time this afternoon. We fear as a Committee that if we exclude players by virtue of the selected Bridge Movement, they could take us to Court for discrimination. Realistically, it is no big deal finding a bridge movement that suits, it is just that there is a lot of opposition from some of the members that we are accomodating. I need Chapter and Verse on the Law.

Customer:

Another question has been raised this morning, about selection for various competitions - can you exclude players from a competiton which is reserved for a particularly standard?

Ben Jones :

As a private member’s club you would still have certain duties and liabilities under the Equality Act, including the duty not to treat disabled members less favourably and also the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled members.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments aims to make sure that a disabled person can use a service as close as it is reasonably possible to get to the standard usually offered to non-disabled people. The key question is whether through the current set up, rules or provisions disabled members are placed at a substantial disadvantage when compared to non-disabled members.

Some useful advice on the subject is provided by the Equality and Human Rights Commission:

“You only have to do what is reasonable. When deciding whether an adjustment is reasonable you can consider:



  • how effective the change will be in assisting disabled people in general or a particular customer, client, service user or member

  • whether it can actually be done

  • the cost, and

  • your organisation’s resources and size.


Your overall aim should be, as far as possible, to remove any disadvantage faced by disabled people. You can consider whether an adjustment is practicable. The easier an adjustment is, the more likely it is to be reasonable. However, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it can’t also be reasonable. You need to balance this against other factors.

If an adjustment costs little or nothing and is not disruptive, it would be reasonable unless some other factor (such as impracticality or lack of effectiveness) made it unreasonable.

Your size and resources are another factor. If an adjustment costs a significant amount, it is more likely to be reasonable for you to make it if you have substantial financial resources. Your organisation’s resources must be looked at across your whole organisation, not just for the branch or section that provides the particular service.

This is an issue which you have to balance against the other factors. In changing policies, criteria or practices, you do not have to change the basic nature of the service you offer.”

So to a degree you will have to accommodate the disabled members but if doing so means that you are no longer able to provide the services you offer and it will affect the actual way they are undertaken and there is no way around it then you could argue the adjustments are unreasonable. So a direct refusal to accommodate disabled members in this way is unlikely to be reasonable but if you limit the number of people you can offer this to in order to ensure that the service is not affected for everyone, then you may do so.

As to the selection for competitions, you can do this as long as it is not linked to a protected characteristic, such as disability, race, gender, religion, etc. So you cannot just exclude someone because they are disabled and tell them they cannot join the competition for that reason. But if this is just down to skills and the skills are not linked to a disability, then you can be selective.

Ben Jones :

I hope this clarifies your position? If you could please quickly let me know that would be great, as it is important for us to keep track of customer satisfaction. Thank you

Customer:

Thank you for your comprehensive reply.

Customer:

I just need clarification on - "but if you limit" the numer of people you can ofer this to in order to ensure that the service is not affected for everyone, then you may do so" - the service is to provide bridge faciliites and to play some competitions. We limit the number of people for a final of a competition by having a Qualifier and the top say 7 pairs go through to the Final. So, we are limiting the no of people. However, can we limit the number further by saying that we can only accommodate say 2 seated pairs, so if this is a problem for anyone please consider carefully when you enter, because the Bridge Movement, may involve you having to move seats during the session? Thanks.

Customer:

Are you coming back Ben?

Customer:

Come back!!!

Ben Jones :

Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. You cannot just limit the number of seated pairs, in turn affecting disabled members, because there may be some delays in organising a movement between games. This is unlikely to be seen as a reasonable argument. The resulting movements may be an inconvenience to the game but not impossible or unreasonable to implement. It may mean the games take a bit longer but that may have to happen to discharge your duties under equality regulations.

Hope this answers your follow up query?

Customer:

Ben - I sent another question yesterday when I got back but you had disconnected as you are now! How do I get you back? Meg

Ben Jones :

Hi I am here now, I replied last night to the uery you posted in the afternoon is that what you are referring to?

Customer:

It was on the clarification qestion - I am getting a bit confused. We limit the no of people that can play in a final but by virtue of a qualifying round. Can we put on the notice for the Qualifying Round, that the final will be xyz movement which will only permit say 2 seated players, therefore if this could be a problem for you if there is not a seated position, please consider carefully before you enter? Is this discriminatory?

Ben Jones :

I am not familiar with rules of the game so cannot say what the relevance of 'movements' are - why can you not have more than 2 seated players, how will that impact the game?

Customer:

Oh - there are 4 players at each table N S E W - usually NS never move and EW move to other tables and we all play the cards albeit with different people. The purist movement for a Final is to play everyone and every set of cards (Board) and the only way to do this is for nearly everyone to move. The recommended FInal Movement allows 1 N S pair to remain seated, and we have managed to find a way to accommodate a second N S pair to move less than the rest of the players. That is the max. The last Final we had 4 players who wanted to remain seated. How do we deal? Hope this explains....

Ben Jones :

ok but my point is that the restrictions of the movements will just be an inconvenience, they may delay the game slightly but not make it impossible. The seated players cans till move around, albeit a bit slower. The game can continue even if they take part, so this is unlikely to be seen as a reasonable excuse to restrict their participation,

Customer:

Ok thanks - I think this covers it and I thank you for checking it through carefully. Meg

Ben Jones :

you are most welcome

Customer:

Sorry - just one more thing - you didn't actually answer if it is discriminatory to say on a notice that if you cannot or won't move you may not be able to participate.

Ben Jones :

that would again depend on why you are restricting that - it is unlikely hat if someone can make their way to the venue they won't be able to move around once there, you will have to make arrangements to facilitate the movements so only if it is entirely impossible or completely unreasonable to do so and it won't be possible to help them in any way or make changes to help with movements can you say that

Ben Jones :

also you can consider make other players move instead to move to those that are not able to move

Ben Jones :

that is what a court would loo at if they are dealing with a claim for discriminaiton

Ben Jones :

does this clarify things?

Customer:

I hope so - will feed back to the Chairman and if there are any more queries, will take the liberty of getting back to you - meanwhile hope that this has explained it sufficiently so we keep within the Law as well as provide enjoyable bridge for everyone! Meg

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46146
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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