Children’s services departments should support and accommodate age disputed asylum seekers during the age assessment process


Today, the High Court has answered an important, previously undecided legal question: whether a local authority children’s services department is obliged to provide accommodation and support to a putative unaccompanied minor (i.e. an asylum seeking individual who claims to be a child and who is unaccompanied) pending a lawful age assessment: R (S, by his litigation friend Francesco Jeff) v. LB of Croydon, Equality and Human Rights Commission intervening [2017] EWHC 265 (Admin).


Mr Justice Lavender has ruled that the benefit of the doubt must be given to the age disputed young person, and that it is unlawful for the local authority to refuse to comply with its duties under ss. 17 and 20, Children Act 1989 pending the determination of the age assessment.  There was no cogent reason for departing from statutory guidance, Care for unaccompanied and trafficked children (July 2014) which states that, “where the person’s age is in doubt, they must be treated as a child unless, and until, a full age assessment shows the person to be an adult.”


The claim was brought by a Refugee Council client from Iraq, 'S', represented by Bhatia Best. S claims to be a child of 16, but his age has not yet been assessed by Croydon due to a number of factors, including concerns about his physical and mental health.  Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC acted for the intervener, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, instructed by Rosemary Lloyd.


More information about the case can be found in the Refugee Council’s press release, available here, and in Doughty Street Chambers’ Community Care Passle post on the ruling, available here.    

« Back to listing

About cookies on our website

Following a revised EU directive on website cookies, each company based, or doing business, in the EU is required to notify users about the cookies used on their website.

Our site uses cookies to improve your experience of certain areas of the site and to allow the use of specific functionality like social media page sharing. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but as a result parts of the site may not work as intended.

To find out more about what cookies are, which cookies we use on this website and how to delete and block cookies, please see our Which cookies we use page.

Click on the button below to accept the use of cookies on this website (this will prevent the dialogue box from appearing on future visits)