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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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This is a strange question! Long story short; we have paid

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This is a strange question! Long story short; we have paid for an assistance dog trained to help our son who has life-threatening epilepsy. The contract and the company who provided him state that he will have full public access rights as a certified assistance dog as stated in the Equality Act 2010.
After reading the Act , part 173(c) concerns me:
173 Interpretation
(1)In this Chapter—
“accessibility requirements” has the meaning given in section 167(5);
“assistance dog” means—
(a)a dog which has been trained to guide a blind person;
(b)a dog which has been trained to assist a deaf person;
(c)a dog which has been trained by a prescribed charity to assist a disabled person who has a disability that consists of epilepsy or otherwise affects the person's mobility, manual dexterity, physical co-ordination or ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects;
(d)a dog of a prescribed category which has been trained to assist a disabled person who has a disability (other than one falling within paragraph (c)) of a prescribed kind;
As our dog has been provided by a company NOT one of the prescribed charities this would say to me that he will NOT be recognised as an assistance dog and will therefore have no more access rights than a pet? As the contract we signed stated that he would be fully certified and will have access rights we have asked for it to be cancelled and for the dogs ownership to be transferred to us. As part of the contract we have already paid £2000 of the £6000 fee for the dog which covers the purchase of the dog, his initial training and vaccinations before arriving with us - the contract states that in the event we pull out the dogs ownership reverts to the company, however we want to know if we are legally in the right to
a. ask for the contract to be cancelled as they cannot possibly meet their side of the agreement and
b. request that the dogs ownership is transferred to us as we have already paid £2000 which we do not wish back.
many thanks.
Thank you for an interesting question.
The Chapter of the Act from which you quote section 173 only applies to taxis and private hire vehicles. Subsection (c) refers to training and not supply. So in theory the dog could be trained by a charity but supplied by a different company entirely. I do find the wording of the section strange given that it's unlikely that a taxi driver would object to an assistance dog in practice. I assume the dog is wearing a badge or special lead to identify it.
In the event that we have to look at the strict law as opposed to the above, your remedy would be to hold the company in breach of contract and reject the dog as not being in compliance with the 2010 Act. There is no rule of law that would entitled you to keep the dog on the basis you have paid £2000. The correct approach, unfortunately, would be to reject the dog and seek repayment of your costs this far.
Happy to discuss. I hope this helps.
Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** helpful. In our case the dog has been supplied and will be trained by the company in question and not a charity. I've searched the Act for any other information regarding the certification of service dogs and this is the only part that I could find that actually mentions them.

I've contacted the company and will await their response - many thanks for your time :)