Claim Number: CO/916/2023
In The High Court Of Justice
King’s Bench Division
27 March 2023
Mrs Justice Lang DBE
Secretary of State For The Home Department
On the Claimant’s application for an anonymity order, expedition and a rolled-up hearing;
Following consideration of the documents lodged by the Claimant;
Order by the Honourable Mrs Justice Lang DBE
- Pursuant to CPR r.39.2, in any report of these proceedings, there shall be no publication of the name and address of the Claimant and her sister, nor any other particulars likely to lead to their her identification. In the proceedings, the Claimant shall be referred to as “EB”, her sister as “AB”, and her mother as “GY”.
- The Claimant’s solicitors shall file with the Court copies of case documents which have been anonymised and/or redacted to protect the identity of the Claimant and her family in accordance with paragraph 1 above.
- Non-parties may not obtain any documents from the court file which have not been anonymised and/or redacted to protect the identity of the Claimant and her family, in accordance with paragraph 1 above, other than with the leave of the Court.
- The claim is certified fit for expedition and fit for vacation business.
- By 4 April 2023, the Defendant shall file and serve an Acknowledgment of Service and Summary Grounds of Resistance, accompanied by a witness statement setting out the steps which are being taken to secure dispersal accommodation in the Brighton area, or temporary accommodation in the Brighton area until after AB’s GCSE examinations are completed.
- There will be an oral permission hearing, to be listed if possible in the week commencing 10 April 2023, and if not possible, in the week commencing 17 April 2023. Time estimate: 2 hours.
- The Claimant may, if so advised, make an application for interim relief. If an application for interim relief is made, it shall be listed for hearing on the same occasion as the oral permission hearing, in paragraph 6 above.
- Liberty to apply to vary or discharge this order on 2 days notice to the other party.
- Costs reserved.
The Claimant is a national from Sudan who seeks asylum, together with her mother and sister. They have been granted asylum support and accommodation under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. They are currently in dispersal accommodation in East London, having previously lived in Brighton with their family.
The Defendant has granted the Claimant’s request to be accommodated in Brighton on educational grounds, as she in the foundation year of a course in Pharmacy at Brighton University.
The Defendant has also been notified of an urgent need for AB to be accommodated in Brighton on educational grounds. Since September 2020, she has been at Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Hove, Sussex. She is a Year 11 student and she is due to sit her GCSE examinations in May/June 2023. In correspondence, her school Pastoral Leader describes her as hardworking and successful academically. However, the move to London in November 2022 has had a negative impact upon her health, her mental state and her performance because she is commuting to school on a daily basis between London and Brighton. She is exhausted, and she failed many of her mock examinations, having previously been at the top of her class.
The Defendant’s “Allocation of asylum accommodation policy” dated 23 December 2022 expressly provides that “accommodation may temporarily be arranged in the area requested if the child has started their final school or college year leading up to their GCSE…” AB’s school has drawn attention to this policy provision in its letter.
On the information before me now, and taking into account the Defendant’s response, I consider that this is a genuinely urgent case. Disappointingly, in its response the Defendant has not given any indication as to the availability of housing stock in the Brighton area, nor apparently considered the option of approaching more providers, nor proposed temporary accommodation in Brighton for the family in the run-up to the GCSE examinations.
The Defendant is critical of the Claimant’s delay in not filing her claim for nearly 2 months after the Defendant’s pre-action protocol response confirming that the family would be relocated to a suitable property in Brighton. In my view, as the Defendant had agreed in principle to the Claimant’s request, it would have been premature to file a claim for judicial review immediately. However, as the weeks have passed, without the Defendant delivering on her agreement to relocate the family in Brighton, despite the impending examinations, it was reasonable for the Claimant to file a claim, seeking expedition.
The Defendant rightly observes that the Claimant’s solicitors have not made the usual applications for abridgment of time of the acknowledgment of service, nor applied for interim relief. Such applications would have accelerated the process. However, I do not consider that such failings should be held against the Claimant if she has a meritorious claim, which she appears to have. I also consider that these failings have given the Defendant more time to find accommodation for the family, and made fewer demands upon her, and so have benefited her.
The claim was issued on 3 March 2023, and served on 13 March 2023. Under CPR 54.8, the Defendant is required to file her Acknowledgment of Service not more than 21 days after service of the claim form, so the deadline is imminent, and I consider an abridgment of time would now be unrealistic.
I have ordered an oral permission hearing, certified fit for vacation business, as this is the only way to ensure that the matter is determined before the GCSE examinations. I have given the Claimant the option of making an application for interim relief to be listed with the permission hearing.
At present, I do not consider that the Claimant’s proposals of a paper permission decision, followed by an expedited substantive hearing, or a rolled-up hearing, are sufficiently speedy to meet AB’s needs. Either option will take months. I also question whether the rolled-up hearing procedure, which requires the Defendant to file Detailed Grounds of Resistance and evidence, and the parties to produce bundles and skeleton arguments, is a proportionate use of resources in accordance with the overriding objective, given that the only issue in this claim is the Defendant’s ability or willingness to find accommodation in the Brighton area within a reasonable time period. In my view, this is a claim which ought to be capable of settlement at permission stage.
I have granted an anonymity order. The Claimant and her family are asylum seekers who claim to be at risk. Additionally, the Claimant’s sister, who is central to this claim, is a minor who is still at school. In the circumstances, a departure from the general principle of open justice is justified.