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Overstepping the mark

By J

Wandsworth LBC v Watson, Court of Appeal, Oct 12, 2010 – Lawtel note only

This was an unopposed appeal by Wandsworth against a decision of a recorder on a s.204 appeal. Ms Watson applied to Wandsworth for assistance under Part 7, Housing Act 1996. She claimed to have been a victim of violence and, in her application, asked not to be housed in Clapham Junction or Battersea, because she had been attacked in those areas. Wandsworth offered her accomodation in western Roehampton. She rejected this offer because she said her attacker lived in the area; she had neglected to mention this when she applied because she did not know that Roehampton was in Wandsworth. A review under s.202, 1996 Act was rejected, as there was said to be no risk of violence in that particular part of Roehampton.

The recorder allowed an appeal under s.204, 1996 Act, holding that the decision was peverse; the authority had failed to deal with certain parts of the evidence and had misconstrued the facts.

The Court of Appeal allowed a further appeal. The recorder had effectively substituted her decision for that of the authority. She had not engaged with the authority’s decision that there was no risk of violence to Ms Watson in that particular part of Roehampton. The recorder was really saying that she would have given different weight to parts of the evidence, but the decision of the authority was one that was reasonably open to them to reach.

J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


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