R (Fisher) v Durham CC - CO/841/2019

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After a contested oral permission hearing, the High Court has granted permission for judicial review in a complex disability discrimination case. Ms Fisher suffers from a medical condition which results in her involuntarily vocalising sounds, words or phrases (which are often profane). In November 2018, Durham CC served a noise abatement notice on her under s.80, Environmental Protection Act 1990, requiring her to stop making those noises and giving her 1 hour to comply. She issued judicial review proceedings, contending that the service of the notice amounted to unlawful discrimination contrary to ss.15 and 29, Equality Act 2010. She also contended that there had been a breach of s.149, Equality Act 2010 and Arts.8 and 14, ECHR. A Deputy High Court judge indicated he was minded to refuse permission because Ms Fisher could either (a) appeal the abatement notice to the Magistrates' Court, or, (b) bring a claim in the county court seeking a determination that the service of the notice was unlawful. Those matters were directed to be considered at an oral hearing. At that oral hearing, the High Court granted permission to apply for judicial review. The grounds of challenge were properly arguable. It was strongly arguable that neither the Magistrates' Court nor the county court could provide an effective remedy and, in any event, that question was one of wider public importance which justified a full hearing. Justin Bates appeared pro bono for Ms Fisher, leading Alice Richardson of Trinity Chambers, Newcastle.

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