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03/09/2008

S.190 homeless duties and JR costs

I’d managed to miss this one somehow, so thanks to the Garden Court bulletin of August for mentioning it.

R (Dumbaya) v Lewisham LBC [2008] EWHC 1852 (Admin) was the end point of a rather messy sounding set of proceedings. The Claimant had been accommodated under s.193 HA 1996, owed the main housing duty. She was then evicted from temporary accommodation for rent arrears. On a fresh homeless application, or alternatively a review of the discharge of duty, the LA claimed that she was intentionally homeless. The LA provided accommodation pending s.202 review, but refused to do so pending s.204 appeal, following a negative review.

The applicant applied for judicial review and received an order for temporary accommodation pending JR. In the meantime, her s.204 appeal was settled, with the s.202 decision withdrawn and a fresh review undertaken.

The JR had effectively been forgotten in the meantime, delays in the Admin Court being what they are. At the eventual JR hearing, the issue was a costs order against the LA in the JR proceedings. The LA argued that a) it was not clear whether it was a fresh application that was being dealt with, or a request for a review of the discharge decision and b) the applicant had a route open to her to apply to the County Court under s.204(a) to ask the court to review the decision not to provide temporary accommodation pending the s.204 appeal. Thus the JR was ‘not at the obvious end of the spectrum’ in terms of R (Boxall) v Waltham Forest London Borough Council (2001) 4 CCLR 258.

The Court held that, as there was no requirement for a formal application, only that the LA have reason to believe that a person was homeless, point a) was disposed of. On the point b) – premature application for JR, the Court found that, as the LA did not point out to the applicant that she could apply to the County Court for interim relief if accommodation pending s.204 appeal was refused by the LA, the JR application was not premature. This was so regardless of whether there was a duty on the LA to point this out or not. The case was at the obvious end of the spectrum, given the LA’s refusal to accept a duty under s.190. Costs to the applicant.

Worth noting that the applicant had mostly CAB assistance, not a solicitor on the homeless applications. Although it appears that Morrison Spowart (and Robert Latham) did the JR application, no point was taken by Lewisham (via Mr Broatch) on the applicant having full legal advice on her options at the point of the JR application. In any similar situation, I would expect that to be put up against the ‘County Court relief not being brought to the applicant’s attention’ point.

Worth reading for the transcription of Counsel instructed at very short notice indeed ;-)

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.

1 Comment

  1. housinganger

    It’s a useful case. I used it last week where a LA didn’t think they should accommodate under section 190 after discharging duty as per 193 (6)b. To be honest I didn’t know whether a new application had to be made or not so it was rather handy!

    Reply

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