This is case that highlights the benchmark for seeking an injunction for accommodation on a judicial review claim
R (on the application of Bates) v Barking & Dagenham LBC (2012) QBD (Admin) 17 August 2012 [Note of extempore judgment on Lawtel]
Ms B had obtained an ex parte interim order that Barking provide temporary accommodation for her and her two children. This was the continuation hearing.
It appears that MS B had sought a Social Services assessment on being evicted from temporary accommodation provided by another local authority in Barking’s area (apparently following a fining of intentional homelessness). She was seeking accommodation and support under s.17 Children Act.
Barking’s assessment concluded that Ms B was intentionally making herself homeless, having failed to co-operate with other local authorities or accept an offer of accommodation. She hadn’t taken appropriate actions to stop becoming homeless, although she had been professionally advised. Unless Ms B changed her approach, s.20 Children Act accommodation could be provided to the children alone as a last resort. S.17 accommodation was not appropriate as Ms B was wholly reliant on the local authority, had not sought a crisis loan or support from friends and family, despite a support network being in place through her church. Ms B was the ‘author of her own misfortune’.
Ms B applied for judicial review of this decision, with an urgent ex parte application for a mandatory order for accommodation to be provided pending the judicial review. This was granted on the papers. Barking opposed the order at the continuation hearing.
The interim order was made in the absence of any grant of permission for judicial review. It would therefore be inappropriate to grant the mandatory order if the court was of the view that permission would not be given.
Permission in this case would depend on consideration of R (on the application of G) v Barnet LBC  UKHL 57,  2 A.C. 208. R(G) made clear that there was no mandatory duty under s.17 and that it was lawful for the local authority to have a policy, such as the present one, aimed “at the very least to provide a strong prompt to the parent, particularly the parent considered to be intentionally homeless, to organise themself better”. The policy did not prevent an assessment taking place, which would have been unlawful, and did not prevent s.20 duties arising.
The hurdle the claimant in this case had to clear was therefore high, as Ms B would have to show irrationality or impropriety in the decision, or some misunderstanding of law. It was hard to see that any of these actually arose in this case. The grant of permission therefore appeared to be unlikely.
Before granting mandatory relief, it was necessary to consider whether there was a real prospect of success at trial, the balance of convenience between the parties and the wider public interest.
Here, there was no real prospect of success for the reasons given above. While Ms B and her children were in difficult circumstances, it was proper for Barking’s assessment to have considered Ms B’s circumstances, finances, the other options open to her and her previous refusal of an offer of accommodation. It was not appropriate to grant a mandatory order.