News and Events

Definition of Disability

  • Posted

[Thanks to Louise Jones of Temple Garden Chambers for providing this case summary]

The EAT (Underhill P presiding) has handed down judgment in J v DLA Piper UK LLP, where the EAT had to consider closely the definition of 'disability' for mental impairments within the meaning of the DDA. It stated:-

  • A GP is fully qualified to express an opinion on whether a patient is suffering from depression;
  • it remains good practice in every case for a tribunal to state conclusions separately on the questions of impairment and adverse effect (and, in the case of adverse effect, the questions of substantiality and long-term effect arising under it); but
  • the tribunal should not proceed by rigid consecutive stages; if there is a dispute about the existence of an impairment, it will make sense to start with the question of whether a claimant's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities is adversely affected.

The EAT added that there is a technical difference between 'depression' and a reaction to adverse life events; in practice little turns on the distinction because tribunals are concerned with the impact of any symptoms on day-to-day activities, and the clinical label applied (if any) was of little relevance under the statutory test.