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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

22 OCT 2009

LOCAL AUTHORITY: R (S) v Hampshire County Council [2009] EWHC 2537 (Admin)

(Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court); Walker J; 22 October 2009)

The child sought judicial review of a local authority assessment of the child in need, which had concluded that although the child had severe behavioural difficulties, he did not meet the other criteria for service from the disabled children's team. The child claimed that the local authority was in breach of Disability Discrimination Act 1995, in that the authority's policy favoured disabled persons with a low cognitive ability and actively discriminated against children with a good cognitive ability who had severe learning behavioural difficulties.

It might well be that, having reached the conclusion that urgent proceedings for judicial review ought to be brought, the legal team had rushed to assemble their material without taking the time necessary to present a coherent analysis. That had been the wrong approach: for the court to understand the nature of the case it had been vital to ensure that the legal case advanced by the child was clearly structured, with each ground for seeking judicial review separately identified, and the matters relied upon under each ground set out in a way that enabled them to be readily assimilated. Permission for judicial review was refused. The child's mother had failed to take up the opportunity offered to her by the local authority to identify any exceptional circumstances as to why the child should receive help from the disabled children's team, even though he did not fit the criteria matrix. Further, the disability discrimination argument did not in fact arise: the broad general purpose of the 1995 Act was to ensure that those suffering from a relevant disability were not unjustifiably treated less favourably than those who were not subject to that disability, whereas the purpose of the local authority criteria in this case was to identify a fair and consistent basis for deciding which disabled children should fall within the remit of the disabled children's team.

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