Duty to accommodate under s.18? First appellate case on the Care Act is a damp squib

May 8th, 2017 by Hannah Slarks

R (SG) v LB Haringey [2017] EWCA Civ 322

When is a test case not a test case?  When the legal argument you want to have does not arise on the facts.

This was the situation in SG.  The parties geared themselves up for the Court of Appeal to clarify the application of the Care Act 2014.  Mind was joined as an intervenor, in order to assist in this important debate.  However, the Court of Appeal quickly reached the view that the debate the parties wanted to have did not arise from the facts of the case.

What the appeal was supposed to be about

SG’s representatives wanted the Court of Appeal to decide an important question about a possible duty to provide accommodation under s.18 of the Care Act.  They argued that, where a local authority identifies eligible “accommodation-related” needs, it must provide appropriate accommodation.  Haringey argued that the provision of accommodation under the Care Act is a matter of discretion, determined by the professional judgment of social workers.

Why the Court of Appeal refused to decide the key issue

The judge below seemed to prefer the local authority’s argument.  However, he found on the facts that the local authority had never asked itself whether SG needed accommodation.  Therefore, neither the local authority nor the Court of Appeal could know whether SG had eligible “accommodation-related” needs.

Faced with a completely abstract question, the Court of Appeal refused to consider the scope of the duty/discretion under s.18.

So, we can all go back to waiting for the Court of Appeal’s first judgment on the Care Act 2014.

Hannah Slarks


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