Nick Grundy KC successfully resists challenge to LB Haringey’s decision that a refugee did not have a priority need for accommodation

1st July 2024

LBH had found that ZR did not have a priority need for housing. He challenged that decision by a claim in the High Court, See: R (oao ZR) v (1) LB Haringey and (2) SoS Home Department [2024] EWHC 1476 (Admin).

ZR, a Sudanese national, arrived in the UUK in February 2022 and applied for asylum. He was granted refugee status in October 2023. The Home Office provides asylum seekers with accommodation for a period of time after the grant of refugee status. Ostensibly this period allows refuges time to make applications for benefits and housing. In the summer of 2023 the Home Department changed its practices in this respect, in effect, shortening the period. ZR’s claim against the Home Department was in relation to the change in practice. ZR’s claim against LB Haringey challenged its alleged failure to process his homeless application.

Insofar as the claim against LBH was concerned, Sweeting J. accepted Nick’s submissions that the Council had processed ZR’s homeless application, and that by sending its relevant Decision (i.e. that made pursuant to the Housing Act 1996, s. 184(3)) to ZR by email directly and not also to his representatives, LBH communicated that decision to ZR. Sweeting J. referred to the relevant provisions of the Homelessness Code of Guidance. Of the email service of the Decision, Sweeting J. found that it was ‘difficult to think of a method which would have been a better substitute in the circumstances’ [77].

The other remaining aspect of the claim against LBH was that the council’s decision not to provide ZR with interim accommodation, pursuant to HA96, ss. 188(3) was irrational. Sweeting J. found that that claim was unarguable [81].

Sweeting J. refused ZR permission for a judicial review claim against LBH. He refused ZR’s application for costs, LBH had agreed to provide ZR with accommodation, but Sweeting J. accepted that that was not because of the merits of ZR’s case but for financial expediency; it was cheaper for LBH to house ZR than to fight the Claim. In fact Sweeting J. ordered ZR to pay LBH’s costs [84].

Sweeting J. was critical of ZR’s solicitor’s conduct in the litigation. However, he declined to make a wasted costs order against them unless a formal application for such an order was made [85].

Sweeting J. also refused ZR’s application for permission for judicial review against the Home Department, largely on the basis that the change in practice had not caused ZR any prejudice.

Nick was instructed and assisted by Sadikur Rahman and Benedict Flinn in the LBH Legal Department.

ZR was represented by Lawstop Solicitors and Nick Armstrong KC (Matrix) and Olivia Beach (33 Bedford Row). The SoS Home Department was represented by the GLD which instructed Nick Payne KC and Jack Anderson (10 KBW).