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Supreme Court Gives Significant Decision for All Disabled Occupiers of Housing (3)

The Supreme Court has today (11 March 2015) given judgment in the case of Akerman-Livingstone v Aster [2015] UKSC 15, which is concerned with the correct approach to be taken by the courts to Equality Act 2010 defences to possession claims. 

The Appellant, who was disabled by reason of his severe and chronic mental health condition, raised a defence of disability discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010. The County Court considered that the correct approach to adopt to such defences was the same as the approach taken to Article 8 defences and summarily dismissed the case (dismissed it without a trial). The High Court and Court of Appeal agreed with the County Court. However, the Supreme Court concluded that this was the wrong approach, and that the Equality Act 2010 provided an occupier with extra protection. The correct approach involved considering whether the proposed eviction was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim which in turn involved consideration of other lesser potential measures.

As a result of recent factual developments the Supreme Court found that it would be no kindness to the Appellant, and pointless, to remit the matter back to the County Court and therefore allowed the possession order in this particular case to stand. However, this decision will be of enormous importance to any and all occupiers of housing whether in the private rented or social sector.

Russell James of Devon Chambers represented the Appellant throughout this case, was instructed by Shelter Legal Services, led by Jan Luba QC in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and joined also by Catherine Casserley in the Supreme Court.

The press summary of the Supreme Court is available here and the video summary is available here.

The full judgment is available here.