November 2nd, 2016 by James Goudie KC

A local housing authority may refuse to accept an application for assistance under Section 183 of the Housing Act 1996 only where it is a further application based upon exactly the same facts as a previous application: so held by the House of Lords in R v Harrow LBC, ex p Fahia [1998] 1 WLR 1396.  This test has been considered in R (Abdulrahman) v Hillingdon LBC (2016) EWHC 2647 (Admin), where the Judge said:-

“39.    In my judgment it is not appropriate to subject a local authority’s decision not to accept an application under Part VII of the 1996 Act to the same sort of analysis as may be applied to a contract drafted by solicitors, to an Act of Parliament, or to a court’s judgment. It is also important that the letter or letters by which such decisions are communicated should be considered as a whole.”

Nonetheless, the Judge held that the authority had acted irrationally in deciding that the test was satisfied. There were new facts relevant to an application for assistance. The changes relied upon were not fanciful or trivial. The new application was not based upon “exactly the same facts” as the earlier application. They were indeed clearly different.

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