High Court grants permission to judicially review local authority age assessment practice

Fri, 19 Jun 2020

On 17 June 2020 Mostyn J granted permission to the claimant, RM, to bring judicial review proceedings against the Manchester City Council over its use of short-form age assessments.

RM is represented by No5’s Philip Rule instructed by Stuart Luke of Instalaw solicitors. The Refugee Council acts as RM’s litigation friend.

The claim advances the complaint, inter alia, that the Guidance in use by this local authority gives rise to the unacceptable danger of failing to acknowledge the margin of error in age assessments. Vulnerable minors are prejudiced by the application of the flawed Guidance which does not protect them from the unfairness of avoiding a Merton-compliant full age assessment where the potential for a margin of error must be appreciated.

Robin Knowles J had earlier ordered that Manchester must explain why it has declined to undertake a full age assessment, and whether the course it has taken in this case reflects a policy that it is applying in a number of cases.

The council has claimed he is aged 25 but RM maintains he is 17 and should be properly and fairly assessed.

Mostyn J noted that a case of this nature would normally be transferred to the Upper Tribunal for the factual issue to be determined there but observed that there were conventional judicial review challenges appropriate to be heard in the Administrative Court in Manchester.

Philip Rule and Stuart Luke also represented the successful claimant in the guideline case earlier this year of R (AB) v Kent County Council [2020] P.T.S.R. 746; [2020] EWHC 109 (Admin).

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