FMM -v- Sheffield City Council (anonymity order)

Administrative CourtHigh CourtKing's Bench DivisionAnonymity Order

Case Number: AC-2023-LDS-000270

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 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 filed by the Defendant and/or Interested Party

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

  1. The application for permission to apply for judicial review is granted, limited to the alleged failure to provide reasons, and the alleged irrationality in relying on the listed factors of C’s physical appearance and presentation.
  2. The application for consolidation is refused.
  3. The application for an anonymity order is granted. The Claimant shall be referred to as FMM.
  4. The application for permission to act without a litigation friend is granted.
  5. The application for permission to file a response is granted.
  6. This matter, together with the applications for interim relief and for expedition, is hereby transferred to the UTIAC


  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. I accept that reasons in a short form assessment may be brief. However, C claims he was given no reasons. The statements from the 2 social workers do not address the issue at all. Thus the case relies on the documents, being “the Over 25 letter” dated 4/09/23 and the Brief Enquiry form completed by the social workers (Permission Bundle p46-47).
  4. 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. In my judgment it is reasonably arguable on the facts of this case that the listed items under physical appearance and demeanour do not provide any obvious basis for saying they form the basis/reasons for the decision reached.
  5. It is further arguable that those matters without more do not and/or are not capable of supporting the conclusion reached, and that the decision is, therefore, irrational.
  6. I refuse permission on Ground 3. The refugee Council letter post dates the decision made, and enquiries of other agencies would be unnecessary in a clear and obvious case. The challenge to that conclusion is encompassed within the Grounds for which permission is granted.
  7. The Brief Enquiry form refers to the Home Office assessment and date of birth given at Dover. 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. It forms part of the procedural and factual background.
  8. Whilst I would have been minded to refuse the application for interim relief for the reasons given in the Summary Grounds, (delay; balance of convenience, and the balance of public interest), I consider this application and the application for expedition are best dealy with by the UTIAC.