In a Judgment handed down today the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal brought by Swan Housing Association Limited against the refusal of a district judge sitting at Southend County Court to order an anti-social behaviour injunction against one of their assured tenants because of alleged breaches of the Equality Act 2010.
The tenant claimed to have Aspergers syndrome and dyslexia but he acknowledged in cross examination that this had not impacted upon the actions which his landlord complained about. His lawyers had also at no stage prior to the trial on 24 April 2013 alleged discrimination or any breach of the public sector equality duty to be found at section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. It was the district judge who raised the issues at the conclusion of the evidence and heard submissions on the application of the Act.
Daniel Skinner, Head of the Social Housing Team at Batchelors Solicitors who acted for Swan, said:
"The Equality Act is an important piece of legislation and rightly may require, amongst others, landlords to consider a person's disabilities in taking certain decisions such as the issue of possession or injunction proceedings. Unfortunately it has become a 'refuge of last resort' in too many cases where there is simply no substance to the defence. We are delighted that the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and rejected the approach of the district judge."
Andy Lane, counsel at Hardwicke who represented Swan, added:
"We were always confident that the district judge would be found to have gone too far given the evidence before him, as indeed Mr Gill's lawyers ultimately in part conceded, but Lord Justice Lewison's comments on the application of the public sector equality duty are of particular importance. He found that where there is no evidence that a relevant protected characteristic exists, it was hard to see in what respect a landlord could be said to be in breach of the section 149 duty. In other words if such a defence is run it should be done so based on appropriate and credible evidence."
The Court substituted an injunction order for the decision of the district judge.
For more information, please refer to the judgment in Swan Housing Association Ltd v Mr Cary Gill  EWCA Civ 1566