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19/11/2015

Vulnerability after Hotak – first High Court case?

R (on the Application of Omar) v Wandsworth LBC, (2015) QBD (Admin) (Ouseley J) 11/11/2015 (not on Bailii yet, note of extempore judgment on Lawtel).

A tantalising lawtel note on what appears to be the first higher court decision on vulnerability after Hotak/Johnson/Kanu. The actual wording of the judgment would be interesting to know.

Ms O applied to Wandsworth as homeless. Wandsworth found her not entitled to the housing duty in a s.184 decision as not vulnerable.

Ms O requested a review of that decision under s.202 and requested interim accommodation pending review. Wandsworth refused interim accommodation and Ms O applied for judicial review of that refusal.

She was aged 27, single and had no dependents. She worked 16 to 20 hours per week. She suffered from asthma and had been recently hospitalised for four days. She had argued that acute asthma attacks made her vulnerable for the purposes of priority need and that the attacks were accentuated by stress. The local authority noted that she had been prescribed standard medication for her condition and found that she was not a vulnerable person in priority need.

On judicial review, Ms O argued that the local authority’s remarks amounted to a medical judgment which it should not have made.

The High Court held that the local authority’s refusal had been entirely lawful. It had been entitled to conclude that asthma attacks did not advance the applicant’s contention that she was a vulnerable person. She was receiving standard medication for the condition and it was impossible to see anything unusual about her treatment. Her contention that the attack had been caused by stress was not supported by evidence. Hotak v Southwark LBC [2015] UKSC 30 (our report) was considered, and the High Court found that Wandsworth’s decision that Ms O would not be ‘significantly worse off’ without accommodation than an ordinary person was not made in error.

 

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.

2 Comments

  1. michael p

    The Lawtel report is slightly misleading . Interim relief had been granted and this was the LA’s successful application to discharge that relief rather than the full JR.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Thanks Michael. Yes, couldn’t make that out from the Lawtel note.

      Reply

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