ATK -v- West Northamptonshire Council (anonymity order)

Administrative CourtHigh CourtKing's Bench DivisionAnonymity Order

Claim number: AC-2023-LON-003166

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

20 December 2023


Mr Sam Grodzinski KC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge


The King on the application of


West Northamptonshire Council


UPON CONSIDERING the Claim Form, Statement of Facts and Grounds, Summary Grounds of Resistance, application for Interim Relief, and the other documents filed by the parties

ORDER by Mr Sam Grodzinski KC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge

1. The application for anonymity is granted: the Claimant shall be referred to as ATK.

2. The Claimant is permitted to conduct this claim without a litigation friend.

3. Permission to apply for judicial review is granted.

4. Interim relief is refused.

5. The claim shall be transferred to the Upper Tribunal.


1. While noting the cogent points made in the Summary Grounds of Resistance, I consider that the claim meets the relevant threshold for the grant of permission in age assessment cases. In particular, and without prejudging the final factual determination to be made by the Upper Tribunal, I note the following points:
a. While the Defendant’s social workers considered the Claimant to be “Significantly over 18”, the evidence does not disclose how much older than 18 (even approximately) they considered him to be – i.e. whether they thought (based on his physical appearance) that he was in his early twenties, or much older.
b. No attempt was made to ask the Claimant why he had paused in the interview before giving his date of birth.
c. There appear to have been very few questions asked of the Claimant relating to his life history and other circumstances, which may have assisted the Defendant’s social workers in assessing his credibility overall.
d. While there is no absolute rule that an appropriate adult be present at the hearing, the absence of such an individual is a factor which is arguably relevant to the overall fairness of the process in this case.

2. Despite the grant of permission, I do not consider it appropriate to grant interim relief, applying the balance of justice test in R(ARM) v London Borough of Brent [2022] EWHC 1454 at [46]. In particular:
a. The Claimant is now able to access medical and dental care, and there is no psychiatric or other medical evidence supporting an immediate need to be moved to different accommodation.
b. The Claimant’s general complaints about his current accommodation, as set out in his witness statement, do not in my view give rise to serious welfare concerns.
c. On the other hand, placing the Claimant in accommodation now with vulnerable children (before a final determination as to his age) would: (1) give rise to real safeguarding risks and (2) would use one of a very limited number of places available for children and young persons within the Defendant’s area, for the reasons explained in the credible evidence of Ms Lukombo.