R (MM) v Lewisham 2009

Summary

The claimant had sought help from a refuge after leaving her partner because of domestic violence. She was 17 at the time. In July 2007, the refuge manager discussed the case with social services but the team manager decided that as the claimant was in receipt of benefits and housing she did not meet the criteria for children’s services. In response to this application the local authority claimed that even if they had acted unlawfully in failing to carry out an initial assessment if they had done so then they would have reached the same conclusion, which they did in December 2007. The claimant’s primary submission was that no reasonable local authority would have reached the conclusion they did in July.

In this judgment, Sir George Newman, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, reviews the discussions between the refuge and the social services department relating to the decision in July 2007 and the subsequent documents used in the December assessment. He concludes that i) if social services had made further inquiries it would have been plain that the refuge did not meet the claimant’s housing needs; ii) they would also have been informed of the impact on the claimant’s mental and physical health. Given that they would have been bound to carry out an initial assessment and conclude the claimant was a child in need requiring accommodation. He also found that the subsequent assessment in December 2007 was flawed

(From Family Law Week)

Bailii

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