15 APR 2015
R (on the application of L) v Warwickshire County Council  EWHC 2013 (Admin); (2015) PLLR 021
care – Disabled children – Duty to consult – Information provided during
disabled children, sought judicial review of a local authority’s decision to
reduce funding for social care services for disabled children. The claim was
allowed in part. There was no general common law duty to consult and at the
consultation all parties were given a chance to express their views. However,
the information the local authority had provided in relation to matters
prescribed by schedule 3 of the Special Education Needs and Disability
Regulations 2014 was not sufficient. The proposed local offer was therefore, in
its present form, lacking. It was held to be necessary for the informed
budgetary decisions that the local authority maintained a register of disabled
Mr Justice Mostyn
claimant were disabled children. They sought judicial review of a local
authority’s decision to reduce funding for social care services for disabled
local authority had cut its Integrated Disability Service budget as a result of
government spending reductions. Most of the reductions were absorbed through
claimants argued that:
local authority was, at common law, required to consult them but had failed to
do so properly;
consultation on the proposed local offer, which the local authority was under a
duty to publish to section 30(1) of the Children and Families Act 2014, did not
involve consultation on the proposed reorganisation of the Integrated
Disability Service, which was to have the effect of narrowing eligibility for
social care for disabled children and families. The local authority had
confirmed those issues would form part of the consultation;
approach under the proposed local offer would lead to a significant, and thus
impermissible, departure from relevant statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children (2013). This departure was
not explained to participants of the consultation;
proposed local budget reductions fell short of what was required by statute;
local authority was in breach of its duty to maintain a register of disabled
children, to be found in Part 1, para 2 of Schedule 2 of the Children Act 1989.
Such a failure meant that the local authority was unable to adequately fulfil
the requirement of section 27 of the Children and Families Act 2014, which
imposed a duty to review the adequacy of education and care service for
children in the area.
claim was successful in part.
it was held that there was no general common law requirement to consult, as the
functioning of administration would be impossible if each decision-maker had to
consult everyone potentially affected by the decision being taken. The common
law would, however, impose a duty where there had been a promise to consult, in
situations where there had been an established practice of consultation, and in
exceptional cases that conspicuous unfairness would arise from the lack of
consultation. As a matter of procedure, the claimants were out of time when
they made their review, so the claim for judicial review would be refused for
that reason. Even so, the claim would fail on its merits, as the circumstances
of the case did not place the local authority under a common law duty to
the Special Education Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 (Regulation 55)
required that the consultation included consultation on the service that
disabled children required. Since the proposed local offer had not been adopted
and was being actively evaluated, it could not be said that the parents of
disabled children did not have the opportunity to offer their views.
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7. Third, section 17 of the Children Act 1989 instructed that a disabled child, irrespective of the extent of the disability, was to be seen, without qualification to be in need, and thus subjected the local authority to a general duty to protect and promote their welfare. The guidance, however, should not be understood to suggest that every disabled child should be subject to a full social worker assessment.
8. Fourth, it was held that the information the local authority had provided in relation to matters prescribed by schedule 3 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 was not sufficient. Therefore, the proposed local offer was, in its present form, lacking.
9. Fifth, it was necessary, for the local authority to make informed decisions, that it maintained a register of disabled children and knew how many disabled children there were in its area.
-, -,  – Common law duty to consult.
,  – Content of consultation.
-,  – Discussion of the effect of section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
- – Deficiency of information in present proposed local offer.
 – The necessity of maintaining a register of disabled children.