A nuisance neighbour who was found to be disabled after a district judge consulted his medical dictionary and declared himself ‘quite satisfied’ that he had Asperger’s Syndrome – despite a near-complete absence of evidence to that effect – has been hit with an anti-social behaviour injunction (ASBI) by the Court of Appeal.
The district judge had found proved various complaints of un-neighbourly behaviour made by a housing association against one of its secure tenants. However, he had refused to grant an ASBI on the basis that the tenant was disabled and that the association had breached the duty it owed him under the Equality Act 2010.
In overturning that decision, the Court observed that the finding of disability was not supported by any proper evidence and had been based upon the district judge’s perusal of his own medical dictionary. The tenant’s mere assertion that he had Asperger’s Syndrome did not amount to evidence of disability.
The Court noted, “The district judge was not entitled to become a self-appointed medical expert by e.g. relying on his own medical dictionary to fill in the gaps.” By attempting to piece together ‘wisps of evidence’, he had engaged in a ‘creative attempt to make bricks from straw’ and had made a finding against the association which had no real foundation.
In granting the ASBI sought by the association, the Court noted that a number of complaints of anti-social behaviour had been proved against the tenant and that there was therefore ‘no impediment’ to the Court substituting its own decision for that of the district judge.