4th December 2012

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust v Norris 2012 UKEAT/0031/12/SM

Article by admin | Legal Updates

To succeed with a disability discrimination claim, the claimant must show they are disabled. This is often contested by respondents as the definition of disability is not straight forward, unless it’s a deemed disability under the legislation. The definition of disability is:

“A person (P) has a disability if P has a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities

In the above case, the claimant had a life-long condition that made her more prone to infection which was controlled by medication. The infections had once, in the past, had a substantial adverse effect on her ability to carry out day to day activities and the question was whether this was enough to satisfy the definition of disabled under the Equality Act 2010?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed that a substantial adverse effect could be caused by increased infections rather than the illness itself, but the medical evidence in this case was not enough to show that susceptibility to recurrent infections resulted in a substantial adverse effect. Further, simply because it was a life-long illness did not mean that the substantial adverse effect was likely to recur.

This case highlights how important medical evidence can be in dealing with cases involving the issue of disability discrimination.