David Gardner represents the Claimant, an unaccompanied child asylum seeker, in the case of R (HA) v London Borough of Islington (CO/230/2022). On 5 May 2022, David appeared before Dan Squires QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) who granted permission to challenge the local authority’s decision to undertake a short form (or abbreviated) assessment of the Claimant’s age, as opposed to a full age assessment, compliant with judicially developed safeguards as set out in R (B) v London Borough of Merton [2003] EWHC 1689 (Admin) and developed by further cases thereafter.

The case highlights the dangers of local authorities undertaking abbreviated age assessments, which should be undertaken rarely and only when it is obvious that the young person purporting to be a child is significantly older than 18. There must be recognition of the clear margin for error necessary to afford adequate protection to the asserted child, in line with cases such as in R (AB) v Kent County Council [2020] EWHC 109 (Admin) and R (SB) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea [2022] EWHC 308 (Admin).

The Judge also granted the Claimant’s application for interim relief to ensure that he is provided with accommodation and support under the Children Act 1989 until the final determination of his age.

The case is being heard in the Administrative Court, rather than the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), as the challenge is, in the first instance, to the lawfulness of the abbreviated assessment rather than the conclusions of the assessment, following cases such as AB and SB. A substantive hearing will now be listed.

David is instructed by Amandeep Basra of Bhatia Best Solicitors