Cowl & others v Plymouth City Council (14 September 2001) (unreported) (QBD)

Residential home – closure – consultation – legitimate expectation – human rights – risk assessment

The local authority’s decision to close a residential care home was found not to be unlawful where the council had consulted adequately with residents and their relatives before any formal decision to close was ratified, and where there was no sufficiently clear and precise evidence of promise of a ‘home for life’, such as to create a legitimate expectation.

Further, there was little purpose in carrying out a full risk assessment involving the physical and psychological needs of the residents at a stage when the home was not going to be closed until months or possibly years later, and the council had made it clear that it intended to carry out such an assessment at the appropriate time.

Articles 2 and 3, which were alleged to have been breached, did not, in this context, come into play until each individual case was considered in light of a full needs assessment and against whatever alternative accommodation may be available. Article 8 did not provide a right to a home; it was a right which required a balancing exercise, and the financial considerations which lay behind the decision to close were a matter for the council.

See the Court of Appeal version of this case for important comments about the need for use of the complaints process, or alternative dispute resolution, in cases of this nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.