Judicial Review - Camden Council inhuman and bias Housing Policy — Scope | Disability forum
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Judicial Review - Camden Council inhuman and bias Housing Policy

JosephB Member Posts: 4 Listener
Hi All,

I am new and was steered here by a need for support in applying for a Judicial Review in the High Court, potentially on my own because of Legal Aid limitations.

Does anyone have any useful advice or experience to offer.

After 2 years of homelessness (caused by the same council neglect/bias), and subsequent hostel living, I’m largely unable to focus because of depression and I am struggling to pursue justice and equality, which seems to be a joke in my case,

Anyway it seems I’m not alone in this time of austerity and housing crisis but, I have no choice but to not allow Camden Council to be irresponsible with my current and future immobility,

*Link removed by moderator*

p.s Viewing is advised outside of mealtimes!


  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,676 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @JosephB
    Welcome to the community and I am sorry to hear you have had such a tough time. Just to let you know, I have removed the link to your video as we felt it was too personal for public viewing.

    I will ask @Joanne_Scope to take a look at your query and maybe some of our members will have had a similar experience and be able to share.

    Best of luck to you :)
    Senior online community officer
  • Joanne_Alumni
    Joanne_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 188 Pioneering
    Hi @JosephB

    It sounds like you been through a really tough time!

    Judicial review can be a way of compelling a Local Authority to make a decision, or to challenge decisions, actions or failures to act of public bodies.
    It sounds like you have exhausted every other route to challenge them, which you need to have done before you can ask for a judicial review.
    You said that you would potentially be doing this alone, but I would urge you to try and find a solicitor to help you with this.
    Have you looked for a Law Centre in your area that might be able to help? There is also an organisation called the Disability Law Service which has a helpline giving free legal advice on housing issues.
    There is also Civil Legal Advice which is a way of finding out if you are eligible for Legal Aid. If you do not qualify they can suggest places that you may be able to go to get help.

    Shelter has some really useful information on the process of judicial review and what sort of decisions can be challenged in this way.

    I hope that you manage to find some support with this and that someone on the Community has been through a similar experience and can give you some practical ideas on how to move forward.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.

  • david235
    david235 Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    Applying for judicial review as a litigant in person (someone who is not legally represented) would be a tall order indeed. I've completed all but one modules of a law degree and it is not something I would like to attempt. The grounds for judicial review took three weeks of my studies and you really need broader familiarity with public law and human rights law to have a working knowledge of the basics. DIY judicial review is really an absolute last resort, not least because you are risking a substantial costs order against you if you lose your claim for judicial review. A further complication with judicial review is that the time limits to bring a claim for judicial review are often short and strictly enforced.

    @Joanne_Scope has given you some suggestions of sources of legal help, which I would urge you to explore. If you can't get any other help, you could try the pro bono projects run by universities and others - in your area I'd expect UCL and perhaps also Birkbeck to have some pro bono help.

    To give you an idea of what you're up against, read the High Court's decision in Ades v London Borough of Camden [2019] EWHC 1489 (Admin) - a recent failed attempt to seek judicial review of Camden's housing policy as it applied to a refugee applicant alleging racial, religious and disability discrimination. Ms Ades was a litigant in person - fortunately for her, Camden did not seek costs. Ms Ades' claims of irrationality, unreasonableness, illegality and breach of substantive legitimate expectation all failed.

    Unfortunately there is extreme pressure on the limited amount of social housing in the central London boroughs. Though you give no details you are clearly in a very difficult situation and I wish you all the very best.

  • JosephB
    JosephB Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Hi All,

    Thank You for the response and support received...Very Informative!

    Having been through 2 PIP and 2 ESA Tribunals without legal support, I can see although possible, Judicial Review will be significantly more challenging.

    Although I can relate the the case quoted above, my case has evident and blatant disregard for the Equalities Act 2010, without regard to Race.

    My shyness of late is because Legal Process is in place i.e. ‘Letter Before Claim’ has been issued and we await Camden’s official response!

    However, since first writing Camden have made a major change of stance recently, they have referred me the home below and suspended my bidding.

    Nice Home for someone more able but, my experience yesterday has invoked the following open letter.

    Thanks Scope for being here!

  • JosephB
    JosephB Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Good Morning,

    Please forgive my shortness for words but, is there any advice you can give, to help me understand what I am going through?

    This is the referral Camden have made, whilst removing my right to bid for a more suitable home.

    Going Up 4 Flights of Stair

    Going Down 4 Flights of Stair

    My health conditions and cause for immobility can be observed here.

    Is it unreasonable, when I feel there is something very wrong with my situation/case.

    Yours Sincerely 

    Joseph Barrett 
  • david235
    david235 Member Posts: 170 Pioneering
    @JosephB - Advice on whether you have grounds for judicial review is way beyond what anyone can do here.

    An important thing to realise is that judicial review is more about whether procedures were followed correctly than about the merits or otherwise of the decision. If the decision was made according to procedures and it not so unreasonable that no reasonable decision maker could have made it (which is a very high barrier - research "Wednesbury unreasonableness" if you want to find out more) then it is unlikely to be a decision susceptible to successful judicial review.

    There is also the possibility of making Equality Act 2010 claims of discrimination and/or failure to make reasonable adjustments, also human rights claims via the Human Rights Act 1998 - but again these would relate to how the council has treated you in the housing allocation process. If they have given you the points and priority that their system says they should based on the evidence they have before them, and the policies themselves take appropriate account of equality and human rights points (if they don't, then the policies themselves are potentially subject to legal attack - though they have been tested in court before as I'd noted), it is perhaps doubtful any of these claims would succeed.

    As I said, it is impossible for someone in this forum to advise you on the grounds for any claim in the High Court - you need to get your case papers in front of someone sufficiently qualified. @Joanne_Scope gave you some ideas, I suggested a couple of university law schools that might be able to offer "pro bono" help. You are not that far from legal London - some chambers sometimes offer "pro bono" help. These sources of help are likely oversubscribed and the timescale for judicial review is short, but you will not get help if you do not ask.

    I am concerned that your expectations might be unreasonable and would urge you to seek whatever help you can from advice agenies familiar with the housing situation in Central London. Councils cannot allocate social housing they do not have. There are a huge number of people on the list for social housing and there will be many priority claims for any ground floor social housing that becomes available, especially in an inner London borough like Camden. I have lived in both Westminster and Camden. My partner lives in Westminster. As a result I have some familiarity with both boroughs.

    The housing you show is quite typical of housing in Camden and you appear to be walking with a stick - so you do not immediately fall into the category of someone who is unable or for whom it is unreasonable to tackle stairs. It might be that, on a more careful examination, the evidence suggests that you are not safe on stairs and ideally should be housed on the ground floor or at minimum in a building with a lift, ideally on a low floor in case the lift is out of order for some reason. However, if that is your need you may well be joining the back of a very long queue with many higher priority cases in front of you.

    The live issue now is whether Camden have correctly assessed the appropriateness of expecting you to use stairs to access your home. If there is any hope of putting an argument directly to the council, supported with appropriate medical evidence, about the safety issues in relation to stairs, that is the best way ahead for now. Judicial review on that point will likely only get that part of the decision remade and is unlikely to magically result in you being handed keys.

    I wish you all the best.
  • Joanne_Alumni
    Joanne_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 188 Pioneering
    Hi @JosephB

    The Child Poverty Action Group is currently running a judicial Review Project.  This is to help Welfare Rights Workers with the process but it might be worth looking at. It has a number of template letters that you can use and also a link to a network of solicitors.
    As @david235 has confirmed, you really would benefit from legal support!

    Good luck with your case and keep us up dated.

  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,868 Connected
    Hello @JosephB

    You need legal advice from a lawyer trained in housing issues in your area.
    This is a lawyer firm based in Camden. You can give them a call on Monday.
  • JosephB
    JosephB Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Thank You Everyone who have commented and offered support above.

    I do indeed have a Solicitor at Maryward  who has been proactive in fighting an initial ‘Lawful Street Homeless’ Decision and currently continues to support my case.

    i should explain!

    My initial query was ‘preemptive research’ in view of the high threshold required to obtain Legal Aid for Barristers in relation to Judicial Reviews.

    it seems this is an interesting thread and a subject worth greater accessibility.

    However, (but not without the existence, advise and support of this platform,) I am extremely please to say Camden have had a complete change of attitude and direction.

    My solicitor did send ‘Letter Before Claim’ 2 weeks ago, as a prerequisite for filing for the Judicial Review.

    Camden’s response maybe the result of, appropriate due diligence however this has taken years and last week I was invited to live up 5 flights of stairs (most distressing)

    To conclude the advise given above is, in my view, prudent and tangible.  I would be following up on the above but clearly no longer need to.

    Considering my experience, I have little doubt others will be faced with similar and even worse circumstances so it’s brilliant that Scope and other groups are here to help, encourage, motive and counsel vulnerable people, forced to fight a governing body.


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