Social Care

July 10th, 2017 by James Goudie KC

Individuals claim to be an unaccompanied child asylum seeker.  The local authority assesses their ages.  It decides that they are not children, they are not under 18.  On that basis it has no functions in relation to them under the Children Act 1989 (“CA 1989”). However, pursuant to CA 1989, the authority had been providing services pending its assessment.  At the same time that the authority provided reasons for its age assessment decision it stopped providing their services.  That was in accordance with its policy or practice.  Is that policy or practice of simultaneous over 18 age assessment decision and withdrawal of services under CA 1989 unlawful, as being procedurally unfair and contrary to ECHR Article 8? 

No, rules Elisabeth Laing J in KA v Croydon LBC [2017] EWHC 1723 (Admin).  She  rejects an argument based on denial of a fair and proper opportunity to challenge the withdrawal of services by means of an application to the Court for interim relief and on common law rights of access to justice.  She holds that Article 8 is not engaged, and that in any event there was no disproportionality. She concluded (paragraph 58):

“… once the Council has decided that an applicant is not child, it is entitled to act on its assessment of the position, and to withdraw services. The obvious reason for that is that, on the Council’s assessment, the young person is no longer entitled to those services. The right of access to justice does not require the Council to continue to provide those services for any period, short or long, in case its decision is wrong. …”

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