Claim number: AC-2023-LON-001632
In the High Court of Justice
King’s Bench Division
15 November 2023
His Honour Judge Siddique sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
Z (a minor)
Notification of the Judge’s decision on the application for permission to apply for judicial review (CPR 54.11, 54.12)
Following consideration of the documents lodged by the Claimant and the Acknowledgement of Service and Summary Grounds of Defence filed by the Defendant
ORDER by His Honour Judge Siddique sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge
- The application for permission to apply for judicial review is refused.
- Pursuant to CPR 39.2(4) no person shall publish any information capable of identifying the Interested Party. The Interested Party shall be referred to as “Z (a minor).”
- The costs of preparing the Acknowledgement of Service are to be paid by the Claimant to the Defendant, summarily assessed in the sum of £3,706.
- Paragraph 3 above is a final costs order unless within 14 days of the date of this Order the Claimant files with the Court and serves on the Defendant a notice of objection setting out the reasons why she should not be required to pay costs (either as required by the costs order, or at all). If the Claimant files and serves notice of objection, the Defendant may, within 14 days of the date it is served, file and serve submissions in response. The Claimant may, within 7 days of the date on which the Defendant’s response is served, file and serve submissions in reply.
- The directions at paragraph 4 apply whether or not the Claimant seeks reconsideration of the decision to refuse permission to apply for judicial review.
(a) If an application for reconsideration is made, the Judge who hears that application will consider the written representations filed pursuant to paragraph 4 above together with such further oral submissions as may be permitted, and decide what costs order if any, should be made.
(b) If no application for reconsideration is made or if an application is made but withdrawn, the written representations filed pursuant to paragraph 4 above will be referred to a Judge and what order for costs if any, should be made will be decided without further hearing.
- On 16 February 2023, the Defendant issued its decision in respect of a complaint submitted by the Claimant relating to a failure by London Borough of Newham (the Council) to provide suitable housing to the Claimant and her child. The decision upheld the complaint and recommended a sum of payment to be made by way of a remedy. I have decided against directing the Council to be added as an Interested Party because I am satisfied I have sufficient information to make my decision below, and to avoid unnecessary delay and potentially further cost to the Claimant.
- On 9 March 2023, the Defendant informed the Council that it agreed with its proposal to offset in part, from the financial remedy, rent arrears owed by the Claimant to the Council. The Claimant seeks to challenge the Defendant’s agreement to that proposal by the Council, by submitting, in essence that the Defendant acted unlawfully as:
a. The 16 February 2023 was a binding agreement.
b. There was procedural unfairness as the correspondence of 9 March 2023 and the correspondence leading up to it was not copied to the Claimant.
c. The Defendant acted irrationally in agreeing to the Council’s proposal and acted contrary to its policies.
- It is clear from the legislative framework of the Local Government Act 1974 that the Defendant’s decision of 16 February 2023 was only binding on the Defendant in so far as findings of facts were concerned. However, as far as the financial remedy is concerned, by virtue of s.30 of the Act this only amounts to a recommendation, as confirmed by R (on the application of (1) Paula Gallagher (2) Mary McCarthy v Basildon District Council & Commission for Local Administration in England  EWHC 2824 (Admin). This ground is therefore unarguable.
- Dealing with the second and third grounds, in my judgement it is arguable with a realistic prospect of success that in failing to include the Claimant in correspondence with the Council, the Defendant acted procedurally unfairly. However, first, the decision in respect of the offset was made by the Council, not the Defendant. Second, the Claimant does not dispute that arrears were due, only that they should not have been offset against the recommended financial remedy. Third, it is clear from the evidence in the Bundle (page 54) that the Defendant’s agreement to the Council’s proposal was in accordance with the Defendant’s published policy.
- In those circumstances, it is unarguable with a realistic prospect of success that the Defendant acted irrationally. Further, it seems highly likely that the outcome for the Claimant would not have been substantially different even if the Claimant had been copied into such correspondence. Consequently, in my judgement the application must be refused in accordance with section 31(3C)-(3F) of the Senior Court Act 1981. The Claimant may wish to seek legal advice before considering any further legal proceedings.