Business News Legal Live Business

Little Mix lawsuit to test obligations of gig promoters under the Equality Act

By | Published on Wednesday 24 January 2018

Little Mix

A new lawsuit against Newark-based concert promoter LHG Live could test just how far live music firms must go in order to comply with the UK’s Equality Act 2010, which states that adjustments must be made to ensure that disabled customers are not at a disadvantage.

LHG Live is facing legal action in relation to a Little Mix show it staged in Sussex last year. The mother of one Little Mix fan – Sally Reynolds – who attended the show and who is deaf, requested ahead of the concert that the promoter provide a British Sign Language interpreter. She was attending with two friends who are also deaf and who were likewise accompanying their children to the show. Reynolds said that the BSL interpreter was required to ensure she and her friends could properly experience and enjoy the concert.

The live firm initially offered an additional carer ticket for the show, saying she could use that ticket if she wanted to bring a BSL interpreter with her. However, Reynolds felt that it was the promoter’s responsibility to provide the interpreter too. To that end she applied for a court injunction to force LHG Live to provide that service. Once a lawyer was involved, the promoter quickly agreed to hire the services of Performance Interpreting to ensure Reynolds and her friends could properly experience the concert.

However, that BSL interpreter was only provided for Little Mix’s set and not the support acts. Which is why Reynolds is now taking additional legal action, arguing that by not providing a BSL interpreter for the full show, LHG Live was not fully complying with its obligations under the Equality Act.

Reynolds told the BBC: “I felt that we were really part of the Little Mix experience, but because it was so good I realised that we had missed out on the first two acts. So it was very much a disparity of experience compared with everyone else. We only got access to the last act. If you went to a film can you imagine only getting access to the last 20 minutes? We had paid for our tickets like everyone else”.

Commenting on the legalities, the lawyer representing Reynolds, Chris Fry, added: “People with sensory impairment actually want to attend musical and sporting events just as anybody else does. The fact that you have a hearing impairment or sight loss doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be at the event. So it is important that venues and promoters recognise that the legal duties to make reasonable adjustments extend to them. It is an important way of making society more inclusive”.

Commenting on the dispute, LHG Live said in a statement to the BBC: “We received a request from Sally Reynolds to supply an interpreter. We consulted with her recommended agency and agreed to provide the professional interpreter of her choice for the Little Mix show. This included specific staging and lighting, and a setlist in advance”. It then added that it also provided upgraded tickets, access to private accessible toilets and all public announcements on giant screens either side of the main stage.

Little Mix themselves are not part of the legal action, though a spokesperson for the group said: “Little Mix strongly believe their concerts should be completely inclusive for all. The band welcome all fans to their shows, including those with hearing impairment, and encourage the promoters they work with to make provisions to ensure their fans can enjoy the concert experience”.

Few would disagree that the live music industry should do everything it can to ensure its shows are fully accessible to deaf and disabled music fans, and through the work of organisations like Attitude Is Everything progress has been made in this domain in recent years. Though this case puts the spotlight on the question of quite how far venues and promoters should go to ensure deaf and disabled customers have access to the same experience, both morally and legally speaking.