Court of Appeal rules that the County Court has jurisdiction when hearing homelessness appeals to consider challenges to councils’ ‘contracting-out’ processes

Thursday 2 April 2020

Nick Bano of the Garden Court Chambers Housing Team represented the Appellant, instructed by ARKrights, in James v Hertsmere Borough Council in the Court of Appeal.

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The Court of Appeal answered a question that has been troubling homelessness lawyers for several years now: does the County Court have jurisdiction to consider challenges to councils’ ‘contracting out’ processes?

Local housing authorities frequently contract out their function of making decisions under Part 7 Housing Act 1996 (homelessness) to independent contractors. In particular, contractors are often used to determine review decisions. There have been conflicting judicial views on whether a decision to contract out the process of determining requests for review can be challenged within a s.204 homelessness appeal.

The Court of Appeal has now resolved that conflict by holding that the County Court’s jurisdiction at s.204 Housing Act 1996 includes the ability to hear challenges about whether a decision to contract out functions, including the function of deciding upon a request for a review, was lawfully made.

Nick Bano discusses the implications of this important decision here.

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