Zia Nabi wins appeal in Supreme Court in Kanu v London of Southwark

13.05.15 | |

In a landmark decision the Supreme Court has laid down clear guidance for assessing who is vulnerable and in priority need of housing under the Housing Act 1996.


The Supreme Court, in three appeals heard together, Hotak v Southwark LBC, Kanu v Southwark LBC, and Johnson v Solihull BC was asked to decide how Local Authorities should approach the statutory test of vulnerability contained in the Housing Act 1996.


This was the first time in the 38 years since the homelessness provisions came into force in 1977 that the highest Court in the land had considered the meaning of “vulnerability”.


The Supreme Court found that:

  • The correct comparator for the vulnerability test was not a street homeless person, but rather an ordinary person in need of accommodation;
  • That an authority had to take great care before it could conclude that family support could adequately address vulnerability;
  • The authority had to have careful regard to the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and the equality duty in reaching its decision on vulnerability (rejecting the authority’s argument that the equality duty added nothing).


Zia Nabi said

 “This is a very important decision. Over the years the bar for priority need had been getting higher and higher, with people with very serious health problems found not to be vulnerable. This is a very welcome rebooting and should mean that many more persons will have to be found to be in priority need.


Zia Nabi of Doughty Street Chambers, instructed by Stuart Hearne of Cambridge House Law Centre, appeared in the County Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court he was led by Helen Mountfield QC of Matrix Chambers.


Lindsay Johnson of Doughty Street Chambers appeared in the County Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court for Mr. Johnson.


The full judgment can be downloaded from the Supreme Court website: here


To veiw the full press release please see here.

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