A recent report has concluded that licensed premises, particularly pubs and bars, some of the poorest venues for accessibility. 

The research was published by charity Euan’s Guide who surveys 903 disabled people on accessibility at public venues. 

As many as a quarter of respondents said pubs typically had poor access, with not being able to get into or around a venue and a lack of a suitable accessible toilet cited as the most common issues. Just 2% rated pubs and bars as typically ‘excellent’ for access according to the research.  38% of respondents said they considered licensed venues to be ‘poor’. 

If you own or run a pub, you have certain statutory equality duties to comply with.  

Equality law (Equality Act 2010) applies to any business that provides goods, facilities or services to members of the public including licensed premises such as pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.  If you run or own a licensed business, you are required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure your premises are accessible to disabled people. 

It is important to remember that your duty to make reasonable adjustments cannot wait until either you receive a complaint or when someone with a disability wants to visit your venue.  

Reasonable adjustments

The equality legislation does not define “reasonable adjustments” because each case will be determined on its individual merits. 

Often people think that reasonable adjustments mean physical changes in licensed venues.  This is not always the case however.  Making physical changes to a licensed venue may sometimes be required for example the installation of wheelchair ramps, widening entrances or installing disabled friendly facilities.  

However, there are other reasonable adjustments that owners of a licensed venue can make.  These can be as simple as reviewing internal procedures to make adjustments for people with disabilities who may not have equal access to customer offers or consideration of the level of lighting in licensed venues to accommodate people with visual impairment. 

It is also important to remember that disabilities come in many forms and this should be considered when looking at reasonable adjustments in your licensed venue. 

Licensed venues considering physical adjustments must be mindful of planning law.  Equality legislation does not trump planning law and as such advice must be sought before any physical changes to a licensed premises are made. 

Assistance dogs

It is a statutory requirement that licensed venues admit registered assistance dogs.  This is because guide dog and assistance dog owners have rights under the Equality legislation to have the same right to services supplied by, amongst others, pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in alcohol and entertainment licensing law, appeals and defence.

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