Delay in Bringing Homelessness Appeal

February 3rd, 2020 by James Goudie KC

In Ahmed v Tower Hamlets LBC (2020) EWCA Civ 51 the Court of Appeal considered the approach to be adopted towards the assessment of a “good reason” for delay in bringing an appeal under Section 204 of the Housing Act 1996 against an adverse review decision under the homelessness provisions of that Act, in circumstances where the reason put forward for the delay is that the applicant was unrepresented and was seeking legal aid. The time limit for bringing such an appeal is 21 days, and that (paragraph 35) remains the “basic rule”. The Court of Appeal said that (1) the “good reason” requirement provides a straightforward statutory test to which no gloss is or should be applied: paragraph 24; (2) the Mitchell/Denton principles should not be applied to the assessment: paragraph 29; (3) difficulties in obtaining legal aid and representation should be taken into account and given appropriate weight: paragraph 34; (4) when these are put forward as a reason for non-compliance with the time limit, the circumstances will need to be examined with care: paragraph 35; and (5) even if the Court is satisfied as to “good reason” that simply opens up a discretion to allow an appeal to be brought out of time, taking account of all relevant considerations, including the position of the local authority: ibid.

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