The Equality Act 2010 provides disabled people protection from discrimination. With some exceptions (which will be addressed in later posts) to be given protection, the person must be able to comply with the definition of disability given in s6(1) the statute:

6(1)A person (P) has a disability if—

(a)P has a physical or mental impairment, and

(b)the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Put in layman’s terms, a person must have a physical or mental disability which has lasted a year or is likely to which has a detrimental effect on their everyday life the impact of which is more than minor or trivial.

On the face of it, this shouldn’t be difficult to comply with. The trouble is that often they are faced with challenges over the very existence of a disability. In many cases this is unfortunate and, one may say, unjustified and not in the spirit of the legislation.

One case which can be of assistance in highlighting how broadly the definition should be applied is  Aderemi v London and South Eastern Railway Ltd [2012] UKEAT 0316_12_0612 (6 December 2012). In this case The Honourable Mr Justice Langstaff provided the following guidance in paragraph 24:

“…we consider that if any question of the scope of interpretation were to arise, we should give to this statute an interpretation which is in line with the intent behind it. The purpose of the Equality Act is to remedy perceived discrimination where it exists and to remove the scourge and evil of discrimination because of a protected characteristic so far as may be done. Where a broad definition such as that of disability is adopted, that requires that a broad approach should be taken to what lies within it.”

In other words, excessive and narrow nit-picking with the aim of simply denying a person protection under the statute is not what the definition allows for given the intention of putting the legislation on the statute book was to tackle disability discrimination.

This case may be of use to anyone who has to prove they have a disability.

Sean Kennedy AKO Legal Advisor