Karimi v Southwark LBC, County Court at Central London, 26 April 2020 (note in July/August 2020 Legal Action – Housing: Recent Developments)
Mr Karimi had applied to Southwark as homeless. Southwark found he was not in priority need in a s.184 decision. Mr K sought a review of that decision. There was an agreed extension for that review to 6 August 2019. The review decision was not notified until 8 August 2019.
Mr K lodged two s.204 appeals, one against the original s.184 decision, and the other against the 8 August review decision. The appeal of the s.184 decision was struck out.
On this appeal, Mr K argued that the review decision was a nullity because out of time, referencing Muloko v Newham LBC (our note) and Khamassi v Hillingdon LBC April 2020 45 (appeal of late review decision made expressly on the basis it was a nullity).
This was dismissed by HHJ Sanders. The mere fact that a review was out of time did not make it a nullity. Making two appeals was not permissible, as per Jobe v Lambeth LBC February 201845 (appellant can either choose to appeal the original decision in the absence of notification of a review decision or can opt to challenge the review decision notified outside of the statutory time limits). and Castro v Lambeth LBC December 2019/January 2020 30 (an applicant is free to elect to validate an out-of-time review decision and to appeal from it. If such election is made, an appeal cannot also be brought against the original decision).
The appeal of the s.184 decision had been struck out, but in also making an appeal of the review decision, Mr K had validated the review decision.
The primary legislation did not contain any timescale within which a review must be made, and it could not have intended total invalidity of a review if not made within the timescale set out in secondary legislation.
The other grounds of appeal of the review decision failed and the appeal was dismissed.
The position after Muloko is now somewhat clear – at least in Central London County Court. If the review decision is late – beyond any agreed extension – the applicant must elect whether to bring a s.204 appeal of the original s.184 decision, or the late s.202 review decision. It is not possible to appeal both, even if one ground of appeal of the late review decision is that it is a nullity. Appealing the late s.202 review decision will almost certainly be taken as a decision to validate that review, such that its lateness is of no consequence, and relying on Khamassi is high risk. However, without that or similar validation, such a retrospective extension of time being agreed by the applicant, the review decision is merely ‘purported’, as per Muloko.