Dyslexic man's legal battle with banks

A man with dyslexia has launched a legal battle against two leading banks in a bid to force them to change the way they communicate with customers with the condition.

A man with dyslexia has launched a legal battle against two leading banks in a bid to force them to change the way they communicate with customers with the condition.

Robert Neil, 43, suffers from a severe form of dyslexia and claims Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) are in breach of discrimination laws by failing to take into account his difficulties in understanding written words and figures.

In what is thought to be the first case of its kind, Mr Neil, of Green Lane, Bradwell, near Yarmouth, is taking the two banks to court and has been told he could receive tens of thousands of pounds in compensation.

However, Mr Neil insisted he only wanted enough money to cover his legal costs and was more interested in standing up for people in a similar position to himself.

He claims he has been hit by thousands of pounds in bank charges, and left with a bad credit rating, because he does not understand written statements and inadvertently becomes overdrawn.

He also says that he was wrongly granted a loan of £20,100 by Nat West, which is owned by the RBS, because he did not understand its interest rate.

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Mr Neil, who is married to Karen, 30, said: “It's not about the money; it's about the principle of it. What I want is the cost of my legal bills and an apology. If the banks had treated me with more respect and appreciated the problems I had, then this wouldn't have been necessary.

“All I want is an old-fashioned bank manager who sorts out your problems and who understands dyslexia.

“If I lose this case it could cost me up to £50,000 and I am already preparing to sell the house, but my solicitor has said that if I win, it will open the floodgates for others.”

Mr Neil left school at the age of 14 unable to read and write properly, but was only diagnosed as having a severe form of dyslexia in 1995. He also suffers from a complication of the illness, dyscalculia, which means he has difficulty understanding mathematics and figures in the written form.

He claimed that while he had repeatedly explained his predicament to the banks, they had failed to allocate someone to him who understood his condition.

His case under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 against Barclays is due to be heard at the county court in Norwich on May 14, while a hearing to rule on the £20,100 loan issued by the RBS has yet to be fixed.

Mr Neil, the father of five children, three of whom also suffer from dyslexia, insisted he was not trying to get out of paying the loan back, but wanted a judge to rule that he did not have to pay the interest.

A spokesman for the Royal Bank of Scotland said: “RBS encourages any customer with concerns about accessing the bank's services to contact us and discuss the matter with us so that we can work together to find a mutually agreeable solution.

“We do not differentiate on the grounds of disabilities and is committed to meeting thee requirements of all our customers.”

She added that the bank was able to assist people who had difficulty reading their statements by offering information in the form of audiotapes, larger print or Braille.

A spokesman for Barclays said training and guidance on how to deal with customers with conditions such as Mr Neil's was offered and added: “Our policies and procedures are under constant review and we are interested in receiving feedback from our customers to help us improve services.”