7 April 2018, by Connor Johnston
Davis v Watford Borough Council  EWCA Civ 529, 20 March 2018
In August 2014, the Appellant, Mr Davis, applied to Watford Borough Council for homelessness assistance. In December 2014, Watford issued a decision finding that he did not have a priority need. Mr Davis – who had experienced a trouble upbringing and suffered from psychiatric and physical health issues, among other things – sought a review of this decision.
In August 2015 Watford issued a letter indicating that it was ‘minded to’ uphold the original decision but, by the time of the review deadline in October 2015, the final review decision remained outstanding and so Mr Davis exercised his right to appeal against the original decision.
Mr Davis, through his solicitors, asked Watford to provide accommodation pending the outcome of the appeal, under s204(4) Housing Act 1996. This request was refused and so judicial review proceedings were issued with a view to compelling the provision of accommodation. Mitting J refused permission to apply for judicial review, taking the view that the appropriate forum for such a challenge was the county court, in proceedings brought under s204A Housing Act 1996.
The Court of Appeal allowed Mr Davis’ appeal. The county court’s jurisdiction to entertain an appeal under s204A Housing Act 1996 only arose ‘where an applicant has the right to appeal to the county court against a local housing authority’s decision on a review’: see s204A(1) [emphasis added]. In this instance there had been no decision on review. In such circumstances judicial review was the appropriate remedy.
The judgment is available here: Davis v Watford Borough Council  EWCA Civ 529