Campbell v ST&H Ltd – Emma Bond of Hextalls succeeds in striking out a claim under the Equality Act.

Emma Bond of Hextalls acted for ST&H Ltd trading as Saga in relation to a claim brought under the Equality Act 2010. The claimant, Mrs Campbell (who previously had taken Thomas Cook to the Court of Appeal) claimed that she had been discriminated against by Saga when she purchased a river cruise called “Amsterdam and the Golden Age of Art”. The holiday was a package holiday.

After booking the cruise the claimant learned that Saga would be unable to accommodate some of her requirements arising out of her disability. She claimed to have been discriminated against because she was allegedly required to agree that she would not go on holiday without a carer and because Saga was unable to offer assistance to Mrs Campbell on board the river cruise vessel to negotiate her way around the ship. She made various other allegations, all of which centred on the application of the Equality Act to river cruise vessels. She cancelled her holiday and sued under section 29 of the Equality Act for discrimination in the provision of services.

In its defence, Saga contended that the Equality Act does not apply to river cruise ships and that in any case, the claimant was out of time because the Act has a strict 6 month time limit for bringing claims. Emma Bond advised Saga to apply for summary judgment on that basis and the application was heard at Sheffield County Court on 4 July. Max Archer of 12 King’s Bench Walk appeared for Saga.

The court found for Saga on every point, holding that the Act does not apply to the provision of services involving ships, since section 30 contains an exception. Even if it did apply, the claimant was out of time under the 6 month limit, since she had not commenced her claim promptly enough taking into account the time when the holiday was booked.

The case is a useful reminder of the exemption under the Act for cruise ships. Whilst there is some applicable European legislation concerning carriage of persons with reduced mobility, the Equality Act’s scope does not extend to the holidays on the high seas or rivers!  A copy of 12 King’s Bench Walk’s note on the judgment can be found here.

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