High Court grants permission for asylum seeker to challenge age assessment by judicial review

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Helen Foot and Ubah Dirie of the Garden Court Community Care Law Team represented the Claimant, instructed by Luke & Bridger Law.

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In R (Muhammadi) v Liverpool City Council [2024] EWHC 483 (Admin), Fordham J granted permission for the Claimant, an age-disputed Kurdish Iranian asylum-seeker, to challenge an age assessment by Liverpool City Council, by way of judicial review.

Helen Foot, instructed by Luke & Bridger Law, represented the Claimant at the hearing. Ubah Dirie represented the Claimant when the claim was issued, and drafted the grounds on which permission was granted by Fordham J.

The Claimant arrived in the UK in September 2022, following a traumatic journey from Iran. He claimed to be 17 years old but was assessed by the Home Office and Defendant Local Authority as being 23 years old. He argued that the age assessment was procedurally unfair, including because it denied the Claimant he was denied a fair opportunity to answer the case against him. No appropriate adult was present. The Claimant argued that he was not afforded the benefit of the doubt, and that the Defendant placed undue weight on his physical appearance and demeanour.

In the course of giving judgment, Fordham J reaffirmed the test for permission in age assessment cases and made some general observations as to the special features of age assessments at the permission stage (at [5]-[7]), including the interrelation between ‘standalone conventional judicial review grounds’ and a claimant’s positive case on age The judgment also addresses the implications of this for how cases are pleaded (at [8]-[9]) and will have wider application in other age-assessment cases.

The case has been transferred to the Upper Tribunal for a fact-finding hearing to determine the Claimant’s age.

Read the judgment here.

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