R (AA) v Lambeth LBC [2001] EWHC 741 (Admin), (2002) 5 CCLR 36

Summary

The court is entitled to order a local authority to provide services pending assessment, even where the local authority does not consider that the criteria for interim provision are met

Facts: AA, a destitute asylum-seeker, got into dire straits and applied to Lambeth for urgent assistance. Lambeth submitted that, notwithstanding the terms of section 47(5) of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990, it had no power to provide interim assistance under section 21 of the National Assistance Act (NAA) 1948 unless and until it had completed an assessment of need: section 47 could not affect that.

Judgment: Forbes J held that Lambeth had statutory power to provide services before completing an assessment, because section 47(5) simply spelled out what had always been implicit in section 21, but, in any event, the court had jurisdiction to grant an interim injunction in the exercise of its general discretion to grant interim relief (under what is now section 37 of the Senior Courts Act 1981).

Comment: Section 19(3) of the Care Act 2014 contains a wider power to provide services in urgent cases, before completing an assessment but it is still contingent on the local authority forming the view that the situation is urgent; therefore, the overarching power of the High Court to grant interim relief remains important.

(This commentary is from Adult Social Care Law by Stephen Knafler QC)

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