London and Quadrant Housing Trust v Patrick [2019] EWHC 1263 (QB)

29th October 2019


The engagement of s.149 of the Equality Act 2010 did not require a judge to give directions in a claim for possession by a public sector landlord, on the facts the judge had been entitled to dispose of the claim summarily.


The defendant held an assured tenancy held from the claimant, a housing association.

The defendant had caused nuisance to his neighbors and the officers of the claimant and the claimant obtained an injunction under the Anti-social Behavior, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The Defendant breached the injunction, partially admitted the breach and was sentenced by His Honour Judge Saggerson. The claimant had meanwhile issued possession proceedings, they were granted permission to amend their claim to include a mandatory ground of possession, ground 7A in part I of schedule II to the Housing Act 1988, based on the breach of the injunction.

The defendant filed an amended defence alleging, for the first time, inter alia, a breach of s.149 Equality Act 2010 – the Public Sector Equality Duty said to be engaged virtue of the defendant’s paranoid schizophrenia. Despite a number of requests for supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s solicitors such material was only served 2 days before the first hearing of the possession claim.

At the hearing, again before His Honour Judge Saggerson, the claimant invited the court to dispose of the claim summarily, the defendant sought directions. The judge made an order for possession.

After the hearing the claimant conducted a further review of the proportionality of proceeding with the eviction and concluded that it was proportionate to proceed. The defendant appealed with permission granted on a single ground, whether the defence advanced under s.149 had required the judge to give directions.


Whether the judge was entitled to dispose of the claim summarily when a defendant had established, prima facie, that his behavior arose from his disability the substance of which had previously been unknown to the landlord.

First instance

Whether the judge was entitled to dispose of the claim summarily when a defendant had established, prima facie, that his behavior arose from his disability the substance of which had previously been unknown to the landlord.

Decision on appeal

Dismissing the appeal Thornton J held that on the facts the claimant had complied with the PSED prior to the hearing before HHJ Saggerson, such compliance required considerably less formality that would otherwise have been the case because the disability was revealed very late in the day. Even if that was wrong the trust had considered the material provided in the time after the hearing, but before actually taking possession, and had determined to continue, any breach made no difference. A technical breach of the PSED did not, in any event, vitiate the claim for possession, Forward v Aldwyck Housing Group [2019] EWHC 24 followed.

The court gave guidance on the application of the PSED in claims for possession:

Application of the PSED

(i) When a public sector landlord is contemplating taking or enforcing possession proceedings in circumstances in which a disabled person is liable to be affected by such decision, it is subject to the PSED.

Nature and scope of the PSED

(ii) The PSED is not a duty to achieve a result but a duty to have due regard to the need to achieve the results identified in section 149 . Thus when considering what is due regard, the public sector landlord must weigh the factors relevant to promoting the objects of the section against any material countervailing factors. 3 In housing cases, such countervailing factors may include, for example, the impact which the disabled person’s behaviour, in so far as is material to the decision in question, is having upon others (e.g. through drug dealing or other anti-social behaviour). The PSED is “designed to secure the brighter illumination of a person’s disability so that, to the extent that it bears upon his rights under other laws it attracts a full appraisal”.

Making inquires

(iii) The public sector landlord is not required in every case to take active steps to inquire into whether the person subject to its decision is disabled and, if so, is disabled in a way relevant to the decision. Where, however, some feature or features of the information available to the decision maker raises a real possibility that this might be the case then a duty to make further enquiry arises.

The importance of substance over form

(iv) The PSED must be exercised in substance, with rigour and with an open mind and should not be reduced to no more than a “tick-box” exercise.

Continuing nature of the duty

(v) The PSED is a continuing one and is thus not discharged once and for all at any particular stage of the decision making process. 7 Thus the requirement to fulfil the PSED does not elapse even after a possession order (whether on mandatory or discretionary grounds) is granted and before it has been enforced. However, the PSED consequences of enforcing an order ought already to have been adequately considered by the decision maker before the order is sought and, in most cases, in the absence of any material change in circumstances (which circumstances may include the decision maker’s state of knowledge of the disability), the continuing nature of the duty will not mandate further explicit reconsideration.

The timing of formal consideration of the PSED

(vi) Generally, the public sector landlord must assess the risk and extent of any adverse impact and the ways in which such risk may be eliminated before seeking and enforcing possession and not merely as a “rear-guard action” following a concluded decision. However, cases will arise in which the landlord initially neither knew nor ought reasonably to have known of any relevant disability. The duty to “have due regard” will then only take on any substance when the disability becomes or ought to have become apparent. In such cases, the lateness of the knowledge may impact on the discharge of the PSED. For example, cases may arise in which countervailing interests justify a less formal PSED assessment than would otherwise have been appropriate. Thus a tenant whose anti-social conduct has already been adversely affecting his neighbours for a considerable time but whose disability is raised at the eleventh hour may well find that the discharge of the PSED does not necessarily mandate a postponement of the date or enforcement of a possession order. Of course, the obligation to have “due regard” still arises but the result of the discharge of that obligation may well be less favourable to the person affected where, through delay, the landlord’s options have been limited and the rights and reasonable expectations of others have assumed a more pressing character. Each case will, of course, depend on its own facts.

Recording the discharge of the duty

(vii) An important evidential element in the demonstration of the discharge of the PSED is the recording of the steps taken by the decision maker in seeking to meet the statutory requirements. 8 Although there is no duty to make express written reference to the regard paid to the relevant duty, recording the existence of the duty and the considerations taken into account in discharging it serves to reduce the scope for later argument. Nevertheless, cases may arise in which a conscientious decision maker focusing on the impact of disability may comply with the PSED even where he is unaware of its existence as a separate duty or of the terms of section 149 .

The court must not simply substitute its own views for that of the landlord

(viii) The court must be satisfied that the public sector landlord has carried out a sufficiently rigorous consideration of the PSED but, once thus satisfied, is not entitled to substitute its own views of the relative weight to be afforded to the various competing factors informing its decision. It is not the court’s function to review the substantive merits of the result of the relevant balancing act. The concept of ‘due regard’ requires the court to ensure that there has been a proper and conscientious focus on the statutory criteria, but if that is done, the court cannot interfere with the decision simply because it would have given greater weight to the equality implications of the decision than did the decision maker. In short, the decision maker must be clear precisely what the equality implications are when he puts them in the balance, and he must recognise the desirability of achieving them, but ultimately it is for him to decide what weight they should be given in the light of all relevant factors.


This case may be relied on as authority for the proposition that simply citing the Equality Act 2010 does not oblige the court to give directions rather than disposing of a possession claim summerly. However, the procedural background was somewhat unusual and the courts are likely to continue to be slow to summarily dispose of claims where the PSED is engaged, Birmingham City Council v Stephenson [2016] EWCA Civ 1029, which does not appear to have been cited, requires a cautious approach to such claims.

The broader point that a technical or minor breach of the PSED does not vitiate a claim is the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision in  Forward v Aldwyck Housing Group [2019] EWHC 24 followed in the instant case.

Expertise: Residential Landlord & Tenant


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