Age Assessments

July 27th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Social Care

In R (Birmingham City Council) v Croydon LBC (2021) EWHC 1990 (Admin) Morris J reviews the role and duties of the Home Office and local authorities when presented with a person who claims to be an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child. The starting point for local authorities is that they have duties under the Children Act 1989. They must provide accommodation and support to children in need in their area. There is no specific duty to carry out an age assessment.

What there is is a duty to decide to assess a child’s needs under Section 17. The authority has to take reasonable steps to investigate whether the person concerned is a child. When there is doubt then there is a duty to carry out an age assessment.



July 26th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

To be unreasonable in the public law sense a decision must be irrational or outside the range of reasonable responses open to the decision-maker. The intensity of review may differ, but irrationality always presents a high hurdle. A rare example in which irrationality is found in a number of respects is provided by R (GB of Yew Tree Primary School) v SoS for Education (2021) EWHC 2084 (Admin). The Judge was especially critical of the SOS’s treatment of the approach and evidence of the local authority. A suggestion of bad faith or bias on the part of the authority unsupported by evidence was irrational. The case is the first successful challenge to a refusal to revoke an Academy Order.



July 26th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

Claimants wish to bring a claim against a Defendant for misuse of private information, breach of confidence and breach of the Data Protection Act. Should the Claimants be granted anonymity? Should they be permitted to withhold their names and addresses when issuing their Claim Form? This was the principle question in Various Claimants v IPSA (2021) EWHC 2020 (QB). Nicklin J at para 33 refers to the “fundamental rule” of the common law that proceedings must generally be held in public. At para 34 he states that Orders that a party to a civil claim be anonymised in the proceedings and reporting restrictions prohibiting identification are “derogations” from the “principle of open justice”. At para 36 he states that the authorities make clear that derogations from open justice can be justified as ”necessary” on two principal grounds: (1) maintenance of the administration of justice; and (2) harm to other “legitimate interests”. The application for anonymity was refused: para 46.


Restraint of Trade

July 23rd, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

In Harcus Sinclair LLP v Your Lawyers Ltd (2021) UKSC 32 the Supreme Court holds that (1) In determining the legitimate interests of the promisee in a restraint of trade case account can be taken not only of the contract terms but also what the parties objectively intended or contemplated consequent on the contract; and (2) the Court’s supervisory jurisdiction with respect to a solicitor’s undertaking does not apply in the case of a LLP.


Burden of Proof and Adverse Inferences

July 23rd, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In Royal Mail Group v Efobi (2021) UKSC 33 the Supreme Court holds that (1) the change in the wording of equality legislation by Section 136 of the Equality Act 2010 has NOT altered the burden of proof in discrimination cases where discrimination is alleged, and (2) whether any positive significance should be attached to the fact that a person, including an actual decision-maker,  has not given evidence depends entirely on the context and particular circumstances and common sense, and not legal rules.


Judicial Review and Courts Bill

July 22nd, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

The above Bill has been published on 21 July 2021. It will not be debated in Parliament until the Autumn.

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July 21st, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Standards

In R (Robinson) v Buckinghamshire Council (2021) EWHC 2014 (Admin) the Court reiterates that where a complaint against a local authority member of misconduct is by reference to what the member said and/or how he or she said it, and Article 10 of the ECHR is applicable, freedom of expression is important, and while that is so for everybody, it is especially so for elected representatives.


Dedication of Track as Bridleway

July 21st, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Environment, Highways and Leisure

In Garland v SoS for Environment etc (2021) EWCA Civ 1098 the Court of Appeal says that,  in deciding whether the common law dedication of a right of way over land would constitute a public nuisance, as a matter of fact, there is no need of evidence of an actual specific accident or incident. The character of the route itself may justify the inference that the route is potentially dangerous to a section of the public.

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Freedom of Expression

July 21st, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty

In McNally v Saunders (2021) EWHC 2012 (QB) summary judgment is granted to the defendant, an online blogger, in respect of a claim against him under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The claim was brought against him by a local authority’s Director of Public Health with the support of the authority. It concerns a series of personally critical blog articles and tweets. The Judge balances on the one hand  the public interest in the Director being able to fulfil her role without being subjected to conduct which undermines her ability to do so, and on the other hand freedom of expression.



Liquidated Damages for Delayed Contractual Performance

July 21st, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In Triple Point Technology v PTT (2021) UKSC 29 the Supreme Court considers general issues about a provision for liquidated damages under a contract and the function of liquidated damages. Parties agree a liquidated damages clause so as to provide a remedy that is predictable and certain for a particular event. There then does not have to be a potentially difficult and time consuming quantification of loss.

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