WHAT is the meaning of the verb ‘to walk’?
It’s something a Fartown man has challenged three of the country’s most senior judges to define after he suffered serious injuries after being knocked down.
Raminder Sandhu, of Ripon Avenue, Fartown, was knocked down and badly injured by a car in May, 2008.
His right leg was shattered, he spent 17 days in hospital and has since undergone numerous gruelling operations, London’s Civil Appeal Court heard yesterday.
But, when he applied for the mobility element of disability living allowance on the basis that he was unable to walk or virtually unable to walk – the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) knocked him back.
They said that because he could go up to 200 yards on crutches before exhaustion set in, he could therefore walk.
Mr Sandhu has now taken the case to the Appeal Court.
Three of the country’s most senior judges will now debate the meaning of the apparently simple English verb ‘to walk’ in a unique test case.
The Appeal Court judges will have to decide whether a one-legged man – or someone on crutches – can walk, or whether being able to put one weight-bearing foot in front of the other is an essential ingredient of walking.
The court’s ruling on the correct legal definition of walk could have major financial consequences for the DWP, along with many of the 6,500 pedestrians run down and injured on British roads every year.
Mr Sandhu has already challenged the DWP ruling before two tribunals without success.
But yesterday top judge Lord Justice Scott Baker said his case raised an “important point of principle” and opened the way for him to fight the DWP in the Court of Appeal.
Earlier, Mr Sandhu’s counsel, Desmond Rutledge, put forward his interpretation of walking, saying: “Both legs are required for walking and one leg must, at all times, be touching the ground.”
Arguing that his view is in line with the “ordinary meaning” of the word, he added: “If one of the legs is not being used in the act of walking, then that cannot be described as walking.”
Noting that Mr Sandhu could put no weight at all on his right leg after the accident – instead relying on his upper body strength to propel himself forward on crutches – Mr Rutledge said the DWP’s insistence that he could nevertheless walk is “outside the bounds of reasonableness”.
Granting permission for a full Appeal Court hearing, Lord Justice Scott Baker said it was arguable that the two tribunals were wrong in their legal definition of the word ‘walk’.
Also observing that the case raises “an important point of principle or practice that warrants the decision of this court”, the judge said that if Mr Rutledge’s definition is correct, a large number of other accident victims may become eligible for the mobility benefit.
Mr Sandhu’s case will now go forward for a full hearing before three Appeal Court judges on a date which has yet to be fixed.