November 13th, 2017 by James Goudie KC

In R (Help Refugees Ltd) v SSHD (2017) EWHC 2727 (Admin) a Divisional Court held that there had been no unfairness in the SSHD’s statutory consultation with local authorities on the requirements relating to the relocation of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children.  The test was not whether the consultation process was free from all blemish, but whether the consultation was so unfair as to be unlawful, i.e. whether it reached an appropriate level of fairness, judged in the light of the criteria for a fair consultation.  The target audience was knowledgeable, sophisticated, and familiar with refugee issues. There was no reasonable expectation that late responses would be considered.

The Court stated:-

“Of course, in some circumstances, particularly where there are possible alternatives to a course proposed, it will be important that the alternatives are spelt out and explained so that consultees can make a fully informed response on a range of options”: paragraph 54.

“There is no need to consult on the question to be asked”: paragraph 55.

“It is important that a consultation document contains sufficient information to enable an intelligent response, and for a consultee to be able to express its views in a way that enables them to be properly considered”: paragraph 56.

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