A French court has ruled that electromagnetic hypersensitivity to mobile and wifi waves is a "serious handicap", setting a legal precedent that lawyers say could lead to "thousands" of claims.
Although the condition is not officially recognised in France, a Toulouse court in charge of disability related disputes ruled that Marine Richard, 39, a former script writer and radio documentary director, displayed “irrefutable clinical signs” of suffering from a syndrome linked to electromagnetic waves.
Ms Richard, , has “85 per cent functional impairment” due to her condition meaning she cannot work, making her able to an adult handicap allowance of around €800 (£588) per month for three years, which could be renewed, the court decided.
The July ruling went unnoticed at the time but was unearthed on Wednesday by AFP.
“This judicial recognition is a major first in France,” said Etienne Cendrier, spokesman for Robin des Toits (Robin Roofs), an association that raises awareness over health issues linked to wireless technologies.
Ms Richard, who has been living as a recluse in the mountains of Ariège, southwestern France, to escape the waves she says have made her life hell, described the ruling as "a breakthrough".
She currently lives in a restored barn with no electricity or running water and no road leading to the property.
Sweden is the only country in the world to recognise electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS, as a functional impairment. Sufferers complain of terrible headaches and dizziness making it hard to think or speak clearly. They say their symptoms are brought on when they come into contact with mobile, wireless phone, or wireless internet waves.
Alice Terrasse, Ms Richard’s lawyer, said the ruling was an historic first in France and could lead to legal action from the “thousands of people concerned by this but who have not gone to the courts until today”.
"They are very isolated, have very little contact (with the outside world), and for them the procedures (to seek financial or legal aid) are extremely complicated,” she said.
Mr Cendrier from Robin des Toits said that the court ruling showed that “justice, as is often the case, is ahead of politicians”, which he accused of “protecting industrial players”.
Ms Richard said she hoped the ruling would lead to the maximum legal limits of such electromagnetic waves being reduced. “We know how to make much less polluting technologies. That said, it’s a political choice,” she said.
A French law passed in January merely called for a report early next year on the issue.