Servite Houses and Wandsworth LBC, ex p Goldsmith [2001] LGR 55 (QBD)

Public authority – public functions – housing associations – community care – judicial review – human rights

A housing association providing residential accommodation in a care home pursuant to arrangements with a local authority under National Association Act 1948 s26 was not exercising public law functions and was not amenable to judicial review. The local authority had no power to delegate its obligations under s21 of the Act and the housing association was not acting as the authority’s agent in providing community care services. Section 26 of the Act did not provide that a local authority continued to discharge its duty through those with whom it made arrangements. Rather, a local authority had discharged its obligation under s21 of the Act once it had made arrangements for the provision of residential accommodation with a voluntary organisation or other private service provider. The closure of the home therefore did not give rise to a breach of public law duties on the part of the local authority.

The fatal impediment to the amenability of the housing association to judicial review lay in the fact that the source of its powers was purely contractual, and in the absence of any statutory underpinning. The relationship between the housing association and the authority was purely commercial. The housing association was not exercising a public function and was not under any public law obligation to the applicants.

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