…….. Bad luck. This is not a photo of us wearing Christmas Jumpers!
It is us saying thank you to all of our supporters for your trust and confidence in us this year, and for the fantastic feedback we’ve had for the results we’ve achieved.
On our last day at work until 4th January 2021, we’ve decided to look back at this year of highs and lows and share our views as to what we’ve done well and what we’ve not quite tackled as we’d like.
On 28th January 2020, we supported Inclusion London (‘pro bono’ – or free) in an intervention designed to strengthen Esther Leighton’s claim against the Ministry of Justice for excluding disabled people from the same financial protection in bringing claims available in personal injury cases.
Throughout February 2020 we worked with the Equality & Human Rights Commission on their project to promote more accessible public transport. We sent out over 50 action cameras to people to record footage of everyday experiences of travelling with a disability on public transport. We challenged the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport to grant dispensations to rail operators to keep inaccessible rolling stock in operation for a further 12 months to 31/12/2020, despite the industry having 12 years notice.
We set up a WhatsApp group for clients interested in sharing their transport wins and fails.
Chris Fry qualified as a Mediator, accredited by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).
We began work for the Deaf community through the #WhereIsTheInterpreter? campaign who had been totally locked out of the public information through the Prime Minister’s daily briefings during lock down. Some of our clients had been visited by the Police because they didn’t know they were even locked down. Others couldn’t engage with health services because of a lack of British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters.
We provided free letters for shielding disabled people who were unable to access groceries from supermarkets, to persuade Supermarkets that they should make reasonable adjustments.
We supported Disability Rights UK in a letter to the Secretary of State for Health expressing concern that the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) list was damaging both in terms of data sharing, and also because it followed the outdated medical model of disability and conflicted with the legal definition of disability set out in the Equality Act which gave Supermarkets the impression that they only needed to prioritise a small proportion of disabled people for online deliveries.
Chris Fry set up Disability Rights Advice TV, initially giving free weekly online advice sessions with Cathy Casserley at Cloisters Chambers with support from BSL Interpreters at Love Language and captions from My Clear Text.
We sent 300 Letters to Downing Street on behalf of the Deaf Community.
We threatened a Judicial Review of the continued failure of the Prime Minister to provide on-platform Interpreters for live national addresses.
We submitted a paper to the Women & Equality Select Committee on the impact of Covid-19 on the Disabled Community.
We challenged the NHS Visitor Guidance policy for the formidable campaigner Fleur Perry. The policy was that no-one admitted to hospital during Covid was entitled to be accompanied, meaning that disabled people with particular one to one support needs were potentially at risk of neglect. By return of letter, the policy was changed!
We acted for Dan Williams, a 28 year old Cardiff based business man and disability rights activist in claiming compensation and injunctive relief against the Prime Minister for repeatedly sending communications in typed print to him, despite the Government knowing that he is Blind and was unable to read what was sent to him in the post.
We settled the first post-Paulley case against Arriva for Nina Grant which led to a series of additional obligations on Arriva including:
- Every induction for a Driver shall include comprehensive Mandatory training on the Equality Act and the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers;
- Every Driver shall be required to undertake refresher training in relation to the above and shall be assessed to a minimum competency standard, a record to be maintained on each Driver’s personnel file. Such training shall form part of each driver’s mandatory CPC training regime.
- Should a Driver fail to reach the Competency Standard as specified at above, the Driver shall not be permitted to drive pending successful resolution of the training course.
- At the end of each shift, every Driver shall be required to complete and file a record of each occasion when during their shift, access has been refused to a wheelchair user. Failure to do so will give rise to an investigation in respect of that Driver, and where appropriate, disciplinary action.
We threatened Tesco with an application for Injunctive Relief compelling them to provide priority online booking slots, and specified delivery windows for Joanne Baskett. They responded positively and agreed to provide all Fry Law clients with priority access to Tesco online slots!
Chris Fry co-published an article for the Discrimination Law Association as to the impact of Covid on disability rights with Catherine Casserley DLA Briefings vol 70 935-947 disabled impact CF
Disability Rights Advice TV continued to attract strong participation from disabled peoples’ organisations, campaigners and lawyers. Thousands of people tuned in to the Facebook page to see the Thursday night sessions streamed live and we took the sessions to the United States for two special guests.
BBC Rip-Off Britain covers our challenge of Uber taxi refusals for Blind customers with Guide Dogs.
Chris Fry presented at the Public Law Project webinars celebrating 10 years of the Equality Act.
We rejected an offer from a very large firm of Solicitors to purchase Fry Law. Chris Fry had to re-arrange his Wedding!
We moved into the Acero Building in Sheffield giving us improved connectivity, and access links.
The Hearing podcast covered an exclusive Interview with Chris Fry https://soundcloud.com/user-264672855/the-hearing-episode-61-chris-fry-fry-law
We also confirmed an exclusive new insurance arrangement with Financial & Legal Insurance (FLI) to protect our clients from any costs risk in enforcing their rights.
We issued County Court proceedings against the Cabinet Office on behalf of our Deaf claimants.
In light of additional demand, we decided to expand the team by adding new Consultants.
We issued another Protocol Letter to the Government for failing to provide any BSL Interpreters for non-Ministerial Briefings, on behalf of Katie Rowley.
We issued free guidance on Face Masks, and added free template complaint letters to our downloadable guide.
Chris Fry is named as one of the Shaw Trust Power 100 and one of the leading Disability Rights Influencers in the UK.
We welcomed Douglas Johnson, Stuart White, Lyndsay Rose and Andy Robinson into the team, providing significant experience and substantial resource to Fry Law, and allowing us to diversify into employment law claims.
We launched a claim against Apple for failing to allow ‘exempt’ customers to stay in store without face masks.
Chris Fry presented to the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC) virtual conference.
We successfully mediated a claim for a Transgender client against her Housing Association Landlords for failing to protect her against transphobic abuse by providing CCTV footage, leading to an arson attack.
We negotiated some fantastic results including for the Brett family in changing evacuation policies at Legoland, and for Mr Harvey in an age discrimination claim against Butlins.
We received a landmark report as to the accessibility of Government information in BSL from Open Inclusion and Heriot-Watt University and then issued a Claim for Judicial Review on behalf of Katie Rowley in the Leeds County Court.
We began to upload case reports to our website so that we can promote greater awareness of the many different ways to tackle discrimination and of the types of outcomes we achieve ‘out of Court’ or off-screen.
The Women & Equality Select Committee published its report as to the unequal impact of Covid-19 on disabled people, recognising the contribution made by this firm and making observations helpful to our supermarket cases, and to the Deaf Community.
It’s fair to say that we haven’t had much rest in 2020, and that the whole team has pulled together working through weekends and bank holidays to keep up. We will build on this work in 2021 and delivering some big results. For now, as we get ready to close the office for Christmas please know that even though our doors are closed we will still be monitoring any requests for assistance, in particular any emergencies.
We all wish you every happiness over the Christmas and New Period 🙂