Claim number: CO/1319/2023
In the High Court of Justice
King’s Bench Division
13 April 2023
The Honourable Mr Justice Linden
The King on the application of
West Northamptonshire Council
On an application by the Claimant dated 12 April 2023 for interim relief and an anonymity order
Following consideration of the documents lodged by the Claimant
ORDER by the Honourable Mr Justice Linden
- By 4pm on Thursday 20 April 2023, the Defendant will file and serve its response to the Claimant’s application dated 12 April 2023 (“the Application”).
- The Application will be listed for a hearing with a time estimate of 2 hours in the week commencing 24 April 2023 if possible.
- Pending the hearing referred to at paragraph 2 or further order:
a. Pursuant to CPR rule 39.2(4) there shall not be disclosed in any report of the proceedings the name or address of the Claimant or any details leading to his identification and the Claimant, if referred to, shall only be referred to as NS.
b. Pursuant to CPR rule 5.4C a person who is not a party to the proceedings may obtain a copy of a statement of case, judgment or order from the court records only if the statement of case, judgment or order has been anonymised such that: (a) the Claimant is referred to in those documents only as NS; and (b) that any reference to the name of the Claimant be deleted from those documents.
- Any person affected by paragraphs 3(a) and (b) of this Order may apply on notice to all parties to have this Order set aside or varied.
- Although the claim has been framed as a challenge to the Defendant’s refusal to carry out a further age assessment in the light of fresh evidence from Mr Bowers which became available on 28 March 2023, the true position is that the Claimant was determined to be an adult on 3 November 2022. Mr Bowers was apparently seeing him regularly from the end of October 2022 and it is not clear why his evidence could not have been produced earlier. In any event, he does not have particular expertise in age assessment and his evidence may in due course be regarded as less than compelling. Moreover, it appears that the Claimant has been in his current adult accommodation since October 2022 and, on his own case, will turn 18 on 1 August 2023.
- All of these matters will have a bearing on the question of interim relief and I am certainly not prepared to grant relief on the papers or without hearing from the Defendant. I am also reluctant to treat the matter as urgent given the delays which there have been in coming to court. However, in view of the fact that there may be an arguable case that the Claimant is a child (I express no view one way or the other) I have made order set out above.