Woman with involuntary vocalising medical condition given permission to bring judicial review over noise abatement notice

The High Court has granted a woman who suffers from a medical condition which results in her involuntarily vocalising sounds, words or phrases permission to bring a judicial review challenge over a council’s decision to serve her with a noise abatement notice.

Durham Council served the notice on Ms Fisher in November 2018 under s.80, Environmental Protection Act 1990 1990, requiring her to stop making the noises, which are often profane, and giving her one hour to comply.

Landmark Chambers said that Ms Fisher will argue that the service of the notice amounted to unlawful discrimination contrary to ss.15 and 29, Equality Act 2010. She also contends that there had been a breach of s.149, Equality Act 2010 and Arts.8 and 14, ECHR.

The set said a Deputy High Court judge had indicated he was minded to refuse permission because Ms Fisher could either:

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(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.

Landmark Chambers reported that at that hearing, the High Court granted permission to apply for judicial review, finding that the grounds of challenge were properly arguable.

The set said the Court found that 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 of Landmark Chambers appeared pro bono for Ms Fisher, leading Alice Richardson of Trinity Chambers, Newcastle.