Artist News Business News Legal Live Business Top Stories

Little Mix promoter liable for discrimination over failure to provide BSL interpreter for full show

By | Published on Friday 17 September 2021

Little Mix

A concert promoter previously known as LHG Live discriminated against three deaf mothers who accompanied their children to a Little Mix concert in 2017 by failing to provide a British Sign Language interpreter for the whole show.

That’s the conclusion of judge Ian Avent having considered a lawsuit filed in 2018 that was seen as an interesting test case regarding the obligations of concert promoters in relation to the UK’s 2010 Equality Act.

The lawsuit was led by Sally Reynolds, who attended a Little Mix show in Sussex with her child, and who is deaf. Ahead of the concert she requested 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.

LHG Live initially said that they’d provide a free ticket to any BSL interpreter that Reynolds wanted to bring to the show herself. However, she felt that it was the promoter’s responsibility to provide the interpreter. To that end she applied for a court injunction to force LHG Live to offer that support.

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.

Feeling that the interpreter should have been provided for the full experience, Reynolds subsequently went legal again, arguing that LHG Live had not fully complied with its obligations under the Equality Act.

Judge Avent agreed. He rejected the promoter’s argument that there was insufficient time to deal with Reynolds’ request, concluding that LHG Live should have been prepared for such requests to be made, given its legal responsibilities under equalities legislation.

According to the BBC, the judge said he was concerned by “the fact that [LHG] appeared to have given no thought whatsoever to the possibility of deaf people attending one of their concerts and, therefore, [had] given [no] consideration to what reasonable adjustments might need to be made”.

As a result, the promoter saw Reynolds’ request “more as a nuisance than something which they should have been proactively pursuing”.

Welcoming the ruling, Reynolds said: “The three of us wanted the same access to the event that everyone else had. The cost of the interpreter was minuscule to [LHG], but [their] response to our request was so hostile that we had no option but to ask the court for a ruling”.

Avent awarded Reynolds and the other two women £5000 each in damages. Although, the BBC notes, the live music firm went into creditors voluntary liquidation, a type of insolvency, on 12 Aug 2020.

Little Mix themselves were not involved in the case. When the legal action began back in 2018 they said in a statement: “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”.