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Decision to depart from national guidance on tactile paving "unlawful"

The High Court has ruled that the decision by the London Borough of Newham to depart from national guidance on the use of tactile paving to assist the visually impaired was unlawful.

Tactile pavings protect the visually impaired

1 November 2012

The High Court has ruled that the decision by the London Borough of Newham to depart from national guidance on the use of tactile paving to assist the visually impaired was unlawful.

Leigh Day & Co represented Mohammed Mohsan Ali, a visually impaired man who challenged the decision by Newham to ignore national guidance produced by the Department for Transport and developed in conjunction with and with the endorsement of Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

In particular, in relation to uncontrolled crossings and the colour used at controlled crossings.

Leigh Day & Co argued that Newham was required to follow the national guidance, unless there was a good reason to depart from it. Justice Parker in his judgment agreed, whilst acknowledging that the guidance was not binding, did find that in this case the relevant national guidance was produced “at a high level and involved those with considerable experience and expertise in the applicable area”.

Richard Stein,  human rights partner at Leigh Day & Co who represented Mr Ali said:

“The Department's guidance was devised with expert input and involved widespread consultation with organisations representing those affected.

"For the planners at Newham to think they knew better was arrogant and worse, it put the visually impaired in real danger of serious injury and death. We hope the Council will now take urgent steps to produce new guidance in line with that of the Department's."

Justice Parker added that the obligation to follow the national guidance was buttressed by Newham’s duty under s. 49(1) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (now s. 149 of the Equality Act 2010). Newham therefore had to have ‘due regard’ in particular to the “need to promote equality of opportunity between disabled persons and other persons” and to “the need to take steps to take account of disabled persons’ disabilities”, even where that involved “treating disabled persons more favourably than other persons”.

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Richard Stein

Rosa Curling