AM -v- Sheffield City Council (anonymity order)

Administrative CourtHigh CourtKing's Bench DivisionAnonymity Order

Case Number: AC-2023-LDS-000268

In the High Court of Justice
King’s Bench Division
Administrative Court

6 February 2024

HHJ Belcher

In the matter of an application for judicial review

Sheffield City Council

Anonymity Order

Notification of the Judge’s decision on
(i) the application for permission to apply for judicial review (CPR 54.11, 54.12)
(ii) the application for interim relief
(iii) the application for an anonymity order
(iv) the application for permission to act without a litigation friend
(v) the application for expedition
(vi) the application for consolidation with various other cases issued by the same solicitors and raising the same grounds
(vii) the application for permission to file a response

Following consideration of the documents lodged by the Claimant and the Acknowledgement of Service filed by the Defendant, and the Claimant’s response to the Acknowledgement of Service

ORDER by the Her Honour Judge Belcher sitting as a Judge of the High Court

  1. The application for permission to apply for judicial review is refused.
  2. The application for interim relief is refused
  3. The application for consolidation is refused.
  4. The application for an anonymity order is granted. The Claimant shall be referred to as AM.
  5. The application for expedition is refused
  6. The application for permission to act without a litigation friend is granted.
  7. The application for permission to file a response is granted.
  8. The costs of preparing the Acknowledgement of Service are to be paid by the Claimant to the Defendant, summarily assessed in the sum of £1800.00.
  9. The Claimant has the benefit of cost protection under section 26 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. The amount of costs that the Claimant shall pay shall be determined on an application by the Defendant under regulation 16 of the Civil Legal Aid (Costs) Regulations 2013. Any objection by the Claimant to the amount of costs claimed shall be dealt with on that occasion.


  1. I grant permission for the Claimant’s response to the AoS, although this should not be necessary as is clear in the Administrative Court Guide. Nor do I think it was necessary in this case.
  2. Consolidation with the other named cases is refused. It is sought based on the premise that the short form assessment used by D in this case and the other cases is procedurally unfair. There is ample authority that there will be cases where a short assessment is appropriate and proper. The form used in this case is designed to enable D’s social workers to identify those cases where they are sure the individual is a child, those where they are sure the individual is not a child (taken by them as over 25) and those cases where they are not sure and where a full assessment will be required. Whether the short assessment was appropriate/properly carried out in the circumstances of any given case is fact specific. Each of these cases falls to be considered on its own merits.
  3. The form is designed to address the difference between the obvious cases (of a child or an adult over 25) and those which are not (where the person completing the form is “Not Sure”). The suggestion that it is unfair for failing to record that the case is an obvious one is not reasonably arguable in those circumstances.
  4. I accept that reasons in a short form assessment may be brief. C states in his witness statement that D’s social workers told him he was not a minor and that they agreed with the date of birth given by the Home Office, namely 3/5/88. One of the social workers states in his witness statement that C was made aware that they deemed him to be over 25. No detail is given as to what was said or if any reasons were given. The other social worker does not address this at all in her witness statement.. Thus the case relies on the documents, being the undated Over 25 letter” handed to C on 30/8/23 and the Brief Enquiry form completed by the social workers (Permission Bundle p45-48).
  5. The Over 25 letter includes no reasons for the conclusion that C is over 25. The Brief Enquiry form lists 3 matters under “Physical Appearance and Presentation”, but nowhere lists these as reasons for reaching any conclusion. C argues that is insufficient to allow C to know the reasons for the decision. I accept D’s position that the 2 documents are to be read together, given that the Over 25 letter was handed to C at the end of the interview meeting. The reasonable bystander relied on by D would see references to physical appearance and adult demeanour. When read together with the Over 25 letter, it is not reasonably arguable that the conclusion that C is over 25 is based on anything other than his physical appearance and presentation, including the obvious reference to adult demeanour. There is nothing else in that document which could lead to that conclusion. Whilst it would undoubtedly be better if that list was specifically referred to as being the reasons (either in the form itself or in the Over 25 letter), in my judgement it is nevertheless sufficient to enable C to understand the reasons for the conclusion reached.
  6. Much of C’s complaint amounts to a challenge to the outcome, rather than the process. The assessment form does not need to record whether there was an interpreter and any difficulties with the interpretation. That does not go to D’s reasons and in any event C accepts he had and understood the interpreter.
  7. The form refers to the Home Office assessment and date of birth give, and C says that the social workers told him they agreed with that. Without more, that does not make it arguable that irrational or improper emphasis was placed on the Home Office assessment or that the social workers failed to undertake their own assessment. The fact of the Home Office assessment cannot be ignored. Ot forms part of the procedural and factual background.
  8. I refuse the application for interim relief and even if I had granted permission I would have been minded to refuse the application for interim relief for the reasons given in the AoS, (Delay; C discloses no real hardship or worries, or any real prejudice by being accommodated where he is: the balance of convenience is in favour of maintaining the current position ; and the wider public interest as referred to in Paragraph 39 of the AoS).