Ealing LBC, ex p C [2000] 3 CCLR 122 (CA)

Children Act 1989 – assessment – Wednesbury unreasonable

The local authority’s decision that it could meet the accommodation needs of a disabled boy and his family under s17 Children Act 1989 by adapting his current home had been supported by very little reasoning, with no attention paid to the doctor’s report or the actual layout of the cramped conditions in which he was living with his mother. Important practical problems were never addressed. The decision was therefore ‘Wednesbury’ unreasonable.

It was also held that when a child has been assessed as being in need under the Children Act 1989, the council’s duty to meet need was triggered and s17(6) of the Children Act meant that this assistance could be in the form accommodation for the family.

At first instance the boy had been assessed against criteria for respite and it was decided he did not meet the authority’s criteria for severe disability. Since he was dyspraxic, incontinent, and asthmatic, this decision was Wednesburyunreasonable. The judge said that it was difficult to see how anyone could rationally come to the conclusion that his disabilities did not have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, bearing in mind the Authority’s own definition of ‘substantial’ as meaning “tangible and significant effects of the person’s ability to perform activities which would be normal for a person of that child’s age”. Therefore, the matter had to be reconsidered by a fresh Panel applying its criteria reasonably.

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