Homelessness Review

July 13th, 2018

The three appeals [2018] EWCA Civ 1616 raised a common issue concerning what is required of local housing authorities in order to comply with the Review Regulations which apply to a review under Section 202 of the Housing Act 1996 when a reviewing officer sends out a minded-to letter indicating an intention to make a decision contrary to the interests of the applicant for homelessness assistance. In short, the question is whether the letter must specify in terms that the applicant (or a representative) may make representations to the reviewer orally at a face-to-face meeting. The Court of Appeal holds that there is no such requirement.   No more is required for an effective notification than to state that the applicant “may make representations to the reviewer orally or in writing or both orally and in writing”. Nothing more is required in order to conform with the principle of legality and the fundamental requisite of the rule of law that the law should be made known and that individuals must be able to know of their legal rights and obligations. Patten LJ, with whom David Richards LJ agreed, said, at paragraph 24:-

“In my view we are a long way from the type of case in which these principles are engaged. The rights which the appellants rely upon and seek to enforce do not depend upon some fundamental principle of law with an origin and existence independent of HA 1996 and the Review Regulations. The right of the appellants to an oral hearing is entirely the creation of the statute …. No reliance is placed on Convention rights as implemented by the Human Rights Act 1998 nor is it contended that the scheme of the legislation and regulations fails to satisfy the common law requirement for procedural fairness.”

 

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