Condor told it must answer parts of disabled man’s claim

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A DISABLED man who says he struggled to get into his car on a Condor ferry as it berthed in Jersey may have been discriminated against even if any on-board parking issues arose before the ship left Poole, the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal has decided.

At a preliminary hearing, the tribunal ruled that Guernsey-registered Condor Ltd would have to answer parts of a claim brought by Geoffrey McGarry. He had complained that inadequate parking arrangements on board a ferry leaving Poole for Jersey in May this year left him in pain as he tried to get back into his vehicle.

Advocate Simon Hurry, appearing for Condor, denied that Mr McGarry had been discriminated against at all but argued additionally that, if any discrimination had taken place, it was not caused by the company and that, in any case, the relevant acts were committed outside the Island.

But tribunal deputy chairman Advocate Cyril Whelan said he would adopt a different analysis in spite of what he called ‘the prima facie attraction of [the advocate’s] argument’.

‘It might be argued, and all will depend on the facts, that the respondent Condor Ltd committed an act of discrimination in Jersey by docking here and disembarking passengers while cars were parked in such a way that disabled people would be particularly disadvantaged. That act took place irrespective of where and by whom the cars had been so loaded,’ Advocate Whelan said.

Mr McGarry argued that Condor had discriminated against him as he made the return trip to Poole this year by their lack of provision for those with disabilities not necessarily requiring them to use a wheelchair. He claimed: ‘When Condor asks passengers to go back to their vehicles, they do not give any priority to passengers with mobility issues. When I got to my car, I was very upset that another car had been parked very close to mine and I was not able to open my door fully. It was clear that there was no choice other than for me to struggle to get in. It was extremely painful and unnecessary.’

‘The crew member had seen the difficulty faced when I had to get out of my car and had parked another car there regardless. The ship was far from full, so it was not necessary to jam us in that way,’ he argued.

At a hearing to determine whether the tribunal had jurisdiction over Mr McGarry’s claim, Advocate Whelan struck out parts which related to events that might have been discriminatory but had taken place outside the Island or its territorial waters, and he also discharged Condor Ferries Ltd, an English company which conducts administration services for the Condor business, from the proceedings.

Advocate Whelan added: ‘This finding of jurisdiction says nothing of the merits – or demerits – of the claims which have been accepted into jurisdiction. That adjudication will take place on a date which the parties are hereby required to fix with the registrar.’

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