A Legal Defence Fund to Secure Access4all in UK Entertainment Venues

by Sally Reynolds

A Legal Defence Fund to Secure Access4all in UK Entertainment Venues

by Sally Reynolds
Sally Reynolds
Case Owner
We are 3 deaf mothers who are fighting to help change UK public entertainment for the better, to ensure that deaf people have the chance to access live music and entertainment.
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Sally Reynolds
Case Owner
We are 3 deaf mothers who are fighting to help change UK public entertainment for the better, to ensure that deaf people have the chance to access live music and entertainment.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Sept. 19, 2021

Success for 3 Deaf Mums who took on Little Mix’s Promoters!

Thank you so much for supporting this campaign - we are delighted to say that we have won! 

This would not have happened without your generous donation; this made it possible for live events to b…

Read more

We are 3 deaf mothers who are fighting to help change public entertainment for the better, to ensure that deaf people have the chance to fully enjoy concerts and festivals with family and friends.


We need your support to raise the funds needed for the proposed £100,000 adverse legal costs i.e. the cost if we lose. This will enable us to continue our legal action to ensure that promoters and venues are proactive in making reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act. Please contribute now and most importantly share this page with your friends and family and on social media. 


Our Case

We are a group of three deaf mothers who wanted to enjoy a music concert with our children as a birthday celebration. However, we struggled to get the most basic access from the event promoter to allow us to enjoy the entertainment in full and to discuss the show with our children after the event.

The three of us are now involved in an on-going legal case with LHG Live Limited

This is because we were not provided with a British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreter for the whole concert.  

We were unable to enjoy all of the concert, we could not access the first section of the performance which left us feeling disengaged. 

If we hadn’t had the support of Fry Law before the event, we don't think we could have secured the BSL Interpreter at all. This legal challenge is essential to create a level playing field for deaf audiences who have every right to attend and to be engaged in musical performances.

We want all deaf people to be able to have full access to events when they buy a ticket for live music and entertainment.

90% of deaf parents have hearing children (Connor, 2014). We want to ensure that all deaf people, including deaf parents are able to enjoy events with their children, enabling them to have access to the lyrics and chat about the concert afterwards.

Most of all, we want to make sure that events are fully inclusive.

"The Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI) believes that access to all services and areas of social life is a fundamental right enshrined in UK legislation. This case highlights the importance of the provision of professional, qualified sign language interpreters for UK Deaf citizens. It has traditionally been areas of life such as health, education and employment where these rights are observed and most often met. This case emphasises that participating in the social, artistic and performance activities of our society is also crucial to the wellbeing of all individuals and their interactions with friends and family.

Furthermore, ASLI believes that Deaf people should not have to resort to legal means such as injunctions (in this case) in order to secure access to goods, services or events. That such access was only given to Sally after such an intervention and then for that access to fail to meet any standard of equality adds insult to injury. ASLI hopes that the result of any court case on this matter is that service providers such as LHG Live Limited meet their obligations and responsibilities to Deaf UK citizens as a matter of course, not only under duress." 

Andy Carmichael, Chair of ASLI Board


This case is heading to court

LHG Live Limited have claimed that their legal costs will be £100,000 and that we need to pay this should we lose!

As three small families, we simply cannot raise these funds by ourselves. To stand down from this challenge would allow for continued inequality and disregard to vulnerable members of society. 

We are working with Crowd Justice to help meet this cost and invite you to make as much of a donation as you can to support our case and ensure that the Equality Act has teeth. 

If you are unable to offer a financial donation, we would appreciate you sharing the campaign with your networks. Tweets, shares, and re-posts really do help us to raise awareness!  

Sally’s Story

In September 2017, Sarah, Vikki and I attended a Little Mix concert with our daughters.

We asked LHG Live Limited to provide a BSL Interpreter in the summer of 2017, several weeks before the concert. They were put in touch with a specialist agency who provide BSL Interpreters for live music and entertainment.

LHG Live Limited refused to make this provision. They gave us no reason for their decision as to why they could not provide a BSL Interpreter. The company repeatedly told us that we could bring someone to sign for us with our carers tickets. We turned down the offer of carers tickets, they were of no use to us and this was not the access that we needed.

LHG Live Limited then told us that this was the end of the matter and offered a refund on our tickets. Despite the poor customer service we had received, we did not want to miss out on the concert. The tickets had been booked as a birthday gift and the girls were so excited!  If we had taken the refund, they would have been devastated.

Read the full story here

Legal action

With support from Chris Fry, we were able to get an injunction which would have forced LHG Live Ltd to provide a BSL interpreter. This case went to court the day before the concert, but the injunction was dropped because LHG Live Ltd finally agreed to provide a BSL interpreter, but only for Little Mix.

If LHG Live Limited had complied with its duties under the Equality Act and engaged with the interpreting agency at the initial point of contact, then the whole concert would have been interpreted, including the support acts. 

Our position now

We have joined forces with Catherine Casserley,  a barrister and an expert in disability discrimination. Our entire legal team is working for us on a No Win No Fee basis.

LHG Live Limited is disputing our claim that the concert should be fully accessible. We are challenging their claims that:

  • A BSL Interpreter was not necessary because we can lipread, and that we had a clear sight line to the stage.
  • That two of us have a cochlear implant which would have enabled us to follow the concert.
  • The provision of a BSL Interpreter can lead to a worse experience rather than a better one for deaf people.

If we win this case, the funds that we raise will be used to support other disability discrimination cases. It will also set a precedent and have an impact for all customers and service users who have a disability.

What happens if we don’t raise the funds?

If we cannot raise the £100,000 we have been asked for, the three of us will be jointly liable for the legal costs. 

The case will still go ahead because we believe very strongly that everyone, regardless of disability, should be entitled to fair and equitable access. That said, £100,000 is a daunting sum of money when you have a family and we are trying to mitigate the risk as much as possible.  

How can you help?

It would be amazing if you were able to donate any amount of money to help us to cover our adverse costs threat.

Just as important – we need you to tell as many people about our case and share the link to this page so that we can attract as much funding as possible, as quickly as possible.

We will face LHG Live Limited in court in a matter of months, it is essential that we have the legal costs behind us to run our case and get our 'voices' heard. We all have rights under the Equality Act, we want to ensure no other deaf individual or family has to undergo such a ‘David versus Goliath’ challenge every time they buy a ticket for an event.

Thank you very much for your support!

Sally, Sarah & Vikki

Special thanks and acknowledgements go to the following for their support:

Update 2

Sally Reynolds

Sept. 19, 2021

Success for 3 Deaf Mums who took on Little Mix’s Promoters!

Thank you so much for supporting this campaign - we are delighted to say that we have won! 

This would not have happened without your generous donation; this made it possible for live events to be accessible for Deaf people.  

We have more good news! This week Wembley announced that they will guarantee BSL interpretation for every concert: https://www.wembleystadium.com/news/2021/Sep/16/Wembley-Stadium-commits-to-BSL-Interpretation-of-all-concerts

Please find in this email the briefing for your information.

Warmest wishes

Sally, Vikki and Sarah

Little Mix case sets Precedent - Events must be Accessible for Deaf People

Four years ago, on 1st September 2017, Cate and her friends Megan and Emily went to the Little Mix event at the South of England Showground as part of a birthday treat, this turned out to be the start of an unprecedented legal battle.

Cate’s Mum Sally Reynolds, and her friends Mums, Victoria Nelson and Sarah Cassandro are Deaf, they were only able to follow part of the event, and only after issuing an application for an injunction in the County Court. The Little Mix events promoter refused to accept that British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters were reasonably required, and when challenged with legal action threatened the families with costs liabilities of over £100,000.00.

On 16th September 2021, Judge Avent in the Central London County Court handed down a Judgment, this criticised the behaviour of the LHG Live (the company changed its name to Live in the UK and is owned by Liz Hobbs) and found them guilty of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.

The Judgment makes it clear that service providers are required to provide Sign Language Interpreters for Deaf service users.

Commenting on the success of the case, Sally Reynolds said:

“We are all extremely delighted with the outcome of this legal challenge. The three of us wanted the same access to the event that everyone else had. The cost of the Interpreter was minuscule to Liz Hobbs’s team, but her response to our request was so hostile that we had no option but to ask the Court for a ruling. 

Over the life of this case, Victoria, Sarah, and I, have put up with criticism, ignorance and threats from the defence legal team. Thanks to Judge Avent, we feel thoroughly vindicated for bringing legal action. We are also so pleased that Judge Avent in his Decision recognised our tenacity in seeing this legal challenge through. This was always a team effort; we never gave up in pushing for a legal outcome and we could not have achieved this without each other’s unwavering support. 

We hope that this ruling will empower Deaf people who want access to services, without them having to go through lengthy discussions or seek out legal action. 

We are aware of the barriers that Deaf people face on a daily basis, when trying to access services, so we recognise that achieving a positive outcome in this case provides immense benefit to the Deaf Community. Our hope was always that the trial outcome would provide a legal safety net that Deaf people may use in the years to come. The release of Judge Avent's decision confirms that we were discriminated against and that LHG Live should have agreed to provide a BSL interpreter at the point of request. 

We would like to personally thank Chris Fry our solicitor for taking on this case and Catherine Casserley our barrister for her consistent detailed approach. Our thanks also go to CrowdJustice and all of our supporters, who helped us to raise the funds needed to cover our legal costs. We thank Limping Chicken for their excellent media coverage during the trial this summer. We would also like to thank Marie Pascall from Performance Interpreting, who continues to work hard in raising BSL awareness within the entertainment industry. And last, but not least, we thank all of our amazing supporters, along with family and friends, who have travelled this journey with us over the past four years, we are immensely grateful to you all.

Chris Fry, a disability rights lawyer acted on behalf of Sally, Victoria, and Sarah, he recently succeeded in a claim against the Government for failing to provide BSL interpreters through the Covid pandemic. Adding to Sally’s comments, Chris said:

“Being Deaf doesn’t mean you should expect second-best service. I hope that this decision will help people who use BSL as their first language and that they will see that change is possible with the right legal help and support. I would like to thank Judge Avent for his careful and important decision, Catherine Casserley for her expert, astute and caring assistance and Sally, Victoria and Sarah for giving me the opportunity to represent them.”

Gideon Feldman from the charity Attitude is Everything who was named in the Judgment as supporting the case said that:

“Promoters and event organisers budget for crew, artists, sound systems and security (amongst other thing) when putting on shows, and we hope that following this case all promoters will budget for access requirements. Live music should be accessible for everyone, and we urge all event organisers to seek expert advice to ensure that it is.”

Notes 

Chris Fry is an award-winning disability rights lawyer who works closely with the Royal Association for Deaf people to help promote access and inclusion. He is one of the only specialist disability lawyers in the UK, his work spans the private and public law, this covers leading authorities, including the Supreme Court.

Chris runs his own private practice through Scott Moncrieff & Associates in London. He regularly undertakes work on a pro bono and No Win No Fee basis, subject to capacity.

Key Decisions in the Judgment

Paragraph 2:

As a matter of reality the case is concerned with an important and rather fundamental issue as to what access and, in turn, the extent of such access, deaf people might have under the Act in order to experience and participate in large open-air concerts otherwise attended by hearing people.

Acknowledgment of the status of British Sign Language (Paragraph 74):

BSL is a mainstream means of communication for a significant section of society.

No thought given to the likelihood of Deaf people attending concerts (Paragraphs 139 and 140):

Overall, the thrust of Lives’ position in relation to the support acts was that there was insufficient time to deal with the issues which arose. I reject that contention. Whilst I found it slightly surprising to learn that Live had not previously, until Ms Reynolds wrote in August 2017, been asked to provide a BSL interpreter at a concert, a considerably greater concern was the fact that Live appeared to have given no thought whatsoever to the possibility of deaf people attending one of their concerts and, therefore, to have given any consideration to what reasonable adjustments might need to be made.

They had certainly considered that disabled people would attend because, as Mr Hobbs exhibited, the diagrammatic plan for the event incorporated a disabled viewing area at the front of the stage. But I have reservations as to whether there was any real contemplation or thought given in relation to deaf people.

Ms Reynolds request was seen as a nuisance (Paragraph 143).

I find that the correspondence discloses that Live’s position was generally reticent and that they viewed Ms Reynolds request more as a nuisance than something which they should have been proactively pursuing. This culminated in the somewhat remarkable statement in the email of 9th August 2017 (see: paragraph 24 above) that no interpreter would be provided at all.

The Provision of BSL will always be more than likely a reasonable adjustment (Para 155):

Where concerts of this magnitude and size of being provided for a particular band, with or without support acts, for one night only at a specific geographic location, it seems to me generally speaking that the provision of a BSL interpreter will always be more than likely a reasonable adjustment to make or provide.

The importance of a Declaration of discrimination (Para 158):

I will exercise my discretion to grant a Declaration. In my judgment this is a remedy which is as equally important, if perhaps not more so, to the remedy of damages because there is then a public recognition of the discrimination which is taken place and a vindication of the claimants’ action. I also note that Live never apologised for their approach to this matter and a Declaration will give Ms Reynolds, Ms Nelson, and Ms Cassandro some satisfaction in that regard.

A vacuum of ignorance and understanding (Para 166):

Live sought to impose what it considered to be solutions in a rather high-handed manner and in a vacuum of ignorance and understanding as to any of the claimant’s disabilities and needs. There was no enquiry from Live at any point as to the extent and nature of their disabilities.

Update 1

Sally Reynolds

Feb. 1, 2021

Important update on our Little Mix case!

Important update on our Little Mix case!

This is a bit of a confusing update, so please bear with us as we try to explain things as clearly as we can.


Summary

We are still going ahead with the Little Mix case. Even if we win, we will not end up getting any compensation and our legal team will not be paid for any of their work.

Why?

Various events and delays have happened which means the company we were told to sue, have gone into liquidation (gone bust).

We are still going ahead because our legal team do not want to lose all their hard work done so far. We expect to win our case on principles which means the court will hopefully write a judgment which explores the legal issues around providing BSL/English interpreters. This will, we hope, clearly show that they are legally required. This judgment will be helpful to other deaf people asking for interpreters and lawyers supporting people in similar cases, such as #WhereIsTheInterpreter

What has happened so far?

We should have been able to update you all before or in March 2020. Various delays have changed and complicated things. We include quotes from legal paperwork to show you the accusations.

Fake tickets

We gave our lawyer our original tickets after we started the case, the Defendant’s lawyers claimed that these were fake, they said:

Not “the actual ticket originally purchased by the Claimant.”

Defendant's aggressive litigation

The Defendant's lawyers have always been extremely aggressive towards us. They threatened Sally with a claim for defamation and demanded detailed financial information from all of us to prove we could pay the other side's costs if we lost. They said:

“full breakdown of each and every Claimant’s assets including without limitation, disclosure of ownership of property, savings and income; 

and confirmation that you will pay into Court or provide evidence of payment into an escrow account (in favour of Our Client and to be released immediately following any costs order made in favour of Our Client) no less that £100,000.00 in order to cover Our Clients estimated costs.” 

Proof of deafness and relationship with Performance Interpreting

The Defendant did not accept that our deafness meant we were disabled under the Equality Act. This meant we had to spend months dealing with an expert witness audiologist and share detailed medical information about our deafness to prove that we were deaf and need BSL interpreters for access.

The Defendant also claimed we had an inappropriate financial relationship with Performance Interpreting because we recommended them as suitable for providing BSL/English interpreters for the Little Mix concert. This is a false allegation. They said:

“For the avoidance of any doubt until irrefutable evidence has been provided and we have had the time for an expert acting for the defendant to confirm any assertions made, then we do not accept that your clients have the disabilities you have alleged; and

1.3 disclosure as to the relationship between any of the Claimants (individually and/or collectively) and Marie Pascal/PI.”

Delays to final hearing

Coronavirus pandemic delays

We were finally ready for the full hearing in early 2020. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic happened, and the court hearing had to be delayed again.

Defendant delays

In June, the Defendant's lawyers persuaded the court to delay setting a new date till 28th July. At the 28th of July 2020 court hearing, the Defendant's lawyers said that none of their witnesses were available to attend a trial hearing until March 2021.

Complicated issues about Defendant companies

Which company was responsible?

In 2017 at the start of this case, we had taken our claim against "Liz Hobbs Group Ltd" as responsible for providing interpreters, but they said that the correct Defendant was actually "LHG Live Ltd". So, we changed our "Defendant" as it can be difficult to work out which legal company is responsible.

Defendant companies changing names, closing, liquidating

In late June 2020, our lawyers noticed that "LHG Live Ltd" had changed their name to "Live in the UK Ltd" before creating a new company called "LHG Live" owned by the same person a few days later.

On 12th August, "Live in the UK Ltd" (formerly LHG Live) went into liquidation (went bust).

Live in the UK would have been hit by Coronavirus because of the lack of live events. We know that "Live in the UK" going bust means that a lot of organisations have not been paid and are “out of pocket”.

We try to change Defendants

In September 2020, our lawyers asked the court to add "Liz Hobbs Group Ltd" back into the case. We argued that both LHG Live and Liz Hobbs Group Ltd were responsible as “service providers” for failing to provide BSL interpreters for the gig. We had to make this application not only because evidence had emerged which made this less clear cut but also because LHG Live had gone into liquidation. Unfortunately, in November 2020 the court decided we could not re-add "Liz Hobbs Group Ltd" as Defendant to the case. We had to pay Liz Hobbs Group’s legal costs.

Where we are now

Our lawyers will not get paid

All the many months of hard work done since 2017 by our lawyers, Chris Fry (solicitor) and Catherine Casserley (barrister) will now not be paid.

Still going to court - for the judgment

Chris and Cathy have built a very strong legal case, they are confident it should succeed in legal terms. They believe that continuing to a shortened trial will help to get a judgment which explores the legal issues and hopefully shows that a BSL/English interpreter should be provided.

If we can get a judgment in our favour, then this will give deaf people something they can send to organisations to show that there is legal backing and that we will stand up for our access rights.

What we have learned from this case

While we are devastated that "LHG Live" and associated companies cannot be held financially liable for their discriminatory behaviour. This case has shown us that deaf people with support from allies and legal professionals like Chris and Cathy can stand up for our communication and language rights. We are delighted to see other Deaf people take individual and group campaigns because of the increased awareness and confidence in what we can achieve.

What next?

We will keep you posted on any further developments. We hope that this will be good news, with a copy of the judgment for everyone to read and use as needed.

Thank you very much for your support!

Sally, Sarah & Vikki

Special thanks and acknowledgements go to 

  • Marcel Hirshman of Weald BSL for providing the BSL translation https://wealdbsl.co.uk/
  • All of our amazing supporters for their support, encouragement and generous donations!

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