High Court on homelessness and Mental Health

06.03.15 | |

In R (MT) v Oxford City Council the High Court has held that the decision in R v Oldham MBC, ex p Garlick [1993] AC 509, remains good law and that a local housing authority can refuse an application as homeless under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 from an applicant who lacks capacity. 


The claimant lacked capacity. He lived in the family home and received care from his father. He applied as homeless to Oxford City Council. Relying on Garlick, Oxford refused to accept the application on the basis that they were not obliged to accept an application from someone who lacked the capacity to enter into a tenancy and/or to manage a tenancy and understand their obligations under the tenancy agreements. 

The claimant brought judicial review proceedings contending that Garlick was no longer good law because it was discriminatory towards those who lack capacity, contrary to Article 14 of the ECHR, when read together with Article 8.The authority responded that there was no unjustified discrimination and that, to the extent that there could be said to be discrimination, the court was nonetheless bound by the decision in Garlick (Kay v Lambeth LBC [2006] 2 AC 465).

The High Court (HHJ Sycamore sitting as a deputy High Court judge) dismissed the claim. The High Court was bound by Garlick and none of the limited exceptions for departing from a binding domestic precedent, identified in Kay, were satisfied. There was, in any event, no discrimination in excluding from assistance under Part 7 those who lacked capacity as separate provision was made to accommodate those in need of supported accommodation under section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948.  

Lindsay Johnson represented Oxford. 

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