Claim No: CO/3552/2022
In the High Court of Justice
King’s Bench Division
14 October 2022
Sir Ross Cranston sitting as a High Court judge
on the application of E
London Borough of Hillingdon
Notification of the Judge’s decision on the application for permission to apply for judicial review and interim relief
Following consideration of the documents lodged by the Claimant and the Acknowledgement of Service filed by the Defendant
ORDER by Sir Ross Cranston sitting as a High Court judge
- The applications for permission to apply for judicial review and for interim relief are refused.
- Pursuant to section 11 Contempt of Court Act 1981 and CPR Rule 39.2(4) the Claimant’s identity shall be anonymised prohibiting publication of any details which might lead to his identification. The claim shall be known and listed only as R (OA) v London Borough of Hillingdon.
- The Claimant has permission to proceed without a litigation friend until further order.
- Transfer to the Upper Tribunal is refused.
- No order for costs.
- This is a challenge to the age assessment the Defendant conducted of the Claimant.
- The Claimant also seeks an interim order requiring the Defendant to accommodate and support him as a putative child pursuant to section 20 Children Act 1989 pending the resolution of this claim or the determination of the Claimant’s age by the Upper Tribunal.
- In outline, the Claimant entered the UK in a lorry on 3 June 2022. He was encountered by police in Leicestershire and arrested. He said that he was 17 years old and gave his date of birth as 2 October 2005. Two social workers from Leicestershire County Council met the Appellant when he was detained and concluded at this point that he was not a child but was 23 years old.
- Later, a Project Support Officer within the Age Dispute Project at the Refugee Council referred the Claimant to Hillingdon Children’s Services to be accommodated as a child in need, having met him on 16 June 2002 and concluded that he could be a putative child as claimed.
- On 22 June 2022 a “Short Form” Age Assessment was completed by two social workers from the Defendant (a third social worker observed). An Appropriate Adult attended. They found the Claimant to be “significantly older than his claimed age. And his age range is above 25 years old”.
- On 19 August 2022, the NRM made a reasonable grounds decision concluding that there were reasonable grounds to conclude he was a victim of modern slavery.
- The issue is whether the Defendant has made a reasonable investigation of the Claimant’s age and whether the procedure adopted was fair: R (HAM) v. Brent LBC  EWHC 1924.
- The Claimant contends that the interpreter did not speak Sudanese Arabian, there was no “minded to” process, and that the assessors failed to take into account relevant considerations, notably indications of torture and trafficking.
- However, only inconsequential errors in translation of the interview are identified, the assessors recorded the Claimant’s life experiences – they describe at some length the resilience exhibited in his journey to reach the UK – and they deal as well with his physical appearance, experience, independence, and general demeanour.
- The plain fact is that whatever the Applicant has claimed and the tentative view of the Refugee Council’s worker, social workers from both Leicestershire County Council and the Defendant have found that the Claimant is well and truly over 18 years old. In my view the Claimant has not shown that he has an arguable factual case. There has been a reasonable investigation and there is no issue about fairness.
- Consequently, there is no basis for granting permission or for transferring the case to the Upper Tribunal. Nor is there a basis for ordering interim relief; the balance of convenience simply does not arise.
- There is no order for costs; if the Defendant wants costs the Administrative Court Guide states that these must be indicated at the time of the Acknowledgment of Service. Given the pressures on the Court, it cannot chase defendants who fail to do this.