The use of ‘Expert Judgement’ when assessing a Performance Solution in regard to disability access can leave practitioners open to potential claims under the DDA.
The Premises standards do not state that ‘Expert Judgement’ is an unsuitable method of assessment, however it does state that to achieve compliance with the relevant Performance Requirements, the performance solution must be comparable to the ‘Deemed to Satisfy’ provisions. From this we can then determine BCA A0.5 (a), (b) or (d) can be used.
When assessing any proposed ‘Performance Solution’, Equal Access typically do not rely solely upon ‘expert judgement’ (BCA assessment method A0.5(c)). The BCA was amended in 2011 to align with the Premises Standards, enacted under the DDA. But, as there are several differences with these documents and where an inconsistency occurs, Equal Access adopts the more onerous requirements.
When the assessment methods under the Premises Standards are compared to the BCA, the only comparable assessment methods are A05(a) and A05(d). The other options (including ‘expert judgement’ under A.05 (c)) are not included in the Premises Standards and as such, we do not exclusively use these methods, to avoid a breach of the Premises Standards and exposure to a potential claim under the DDA.
As the Premises Standards do not recognise ‘expert judgement’ as an assessment method option, under Section 3.2 of the Premises Standards, where compliance with the ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ provisions is sought (Section 3.2(1)), the use of applicable ‘performance requirements’ (Section 3.2(2)) is allowed if the level of access is not less than or ‘comparable’ to the ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ provisions’ (Section 3.2(3)).