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05/07/2007

Be good to your mother

So, Denton v London Borough of Southwark [2007] EWCA Civ 623.

This won’t take long, as the case rests almost entirely on its own facts.

Applicant, a 21 year old male, applied as homeless after being thrown out by his mother. First decision, upheld on review, was that he was intentionally homeless because his bad behaviour had led to his mother telling him to go.

The County Court apparently thought a bid of leeway should be given to a 21 year old man living with his mum – some friction and chafing at rules was to be expected, and the decision had erred in not considering the behaviour as part of a history of friction between mother going back to when he was 18 or so. The reviewer had also failed to consider the mother’s situation and actions as a cause of his leaving. (The Court heard the argument that the son was entitled, as an independent person, to distance himself from his mother’s rules) Decision overturned as Wednesbury unreasonable.

The Court of Appeal gave this idea a sound spanking and send it to bed without any supper. The rules set by the mother for living in the home were not excessive or unduly harsh. It would have been reasonable for the applicant to remain in the property if it were not for his behaviour, and the mother was indeed prepared to have him back if he behaved. The Authority’s failure to make further detailed enquiries was not unreasonable and did not give a basis for a public law based challenge. And, the Court emphasised, this judgment did not set any general principles for dealing with situations where a young person leaves or has to leave the family home.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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