30/03/2008

Allocation Judicial Review 1

I’ve been waiting to post on the outcome of two judicial reviews of Southwark’s allocation scheme for a while, hoping they would appear on BAILII. They haven’t, but Garden Court have briefly set out the cases in their 24 March bulletin. So, here is the first of two posts on these cases.

R(Yazar) v Southwark LBC [2008] EWHC 515 (Admin) concerned Southwark’s inclusion in the Choice Based Letting (CBL) Scheme of a Band 1 (highest) priority for a ‘Social Services Nomination’. The applicant had been recommended for Band 1 priority by her social worker, but housing and social services then denied that a nomination had taken place. Southwark initially denied that there was a formal process for social services nominations, then stated that there were criteria that were in addition to those given in the published allocation scheme. Southwark did not give reasons for refusing a social services nomination until immediately before the hearing of the judicial review, in the form of a witness statement.

The challenge was on three grounds:

  1. The scheme failed to identify procedures for making social services nominations and the persons by whom decisions are made;
  2. The decision not to make a nomination in the applicant’s case was unlawful in that there were no proper procedures for determining the nomination, issuing reasoned decisions or offering a right of review
  3. The scheme failed to provide a rational mechanism for ensuring that an assessed need for a ground floor property with a garden is given a head start over those with no such assessed need.

On 1. Mr Justice Simons held that the Allocation Scheme was defective in relation to the making of social services nominations. Until the clarification in evidence, the basis on which such nominations were made, and by whom, was unclear to the point of obscurity. Defendant to add a clear explanation to the published scheme.

On 2. the Court held that, although a local authority was not bound to express its reasons for not making a nomination in every case, it was bound to give its reasons if asked. However, given changes in the applicant’s circumstances, it was not necessary to quash the decision in her case.

On 3. the Court was not prepared to entertain what could be construed as a challenge to the Choice Based Letting scheme as a whole, Lambeth LBC v A. and Lindsay [2002] EWCA 1084 followed.

The rejection of the broader based challenge was a common theme in this case and the next, R(Faarah) v Southwark LBC.

Counsel for the applicant was Robert Latham, instructed by Anthony Gold Solicitors.

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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