Duncan Lewis helps dying and homeless Portuguese man who was refused accommodation and was being repatriated to Portugal by a London council to win his High Court case
Duncan Lewis’ Community Care Department acting on behalf of Mr Almeida instructed Doughty Street Chambers to bring an application for judicial review against the local authority's failure to conduct a community care assessment of his care needs when he was being evicted from hostel accommodation his friends were no longer able to fund for him. Mr Almeida is a Portuguese national who is terminally ill with treatment resistant AIDS and associated health problems, and due to his ill health, was unable to support himself. During the course of the legal proceedings the local authority assessed Mr Almeida's needs, but found him not to be in need of care and attention and therefore concluded that they did not have a duty to accommodate and support him under section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948.
It was argued that the decision was irrational and the court quashed this decision. The court considered the question of whether Mr Almeida would be excluded from accessing support under this provision by schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and whether in offering assistance in returning to Portugal would breach his Human Rights.
Held: Breach of Article 3 ECHR and Article 8 ECHR. Right not to be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment. To send him to an undignified and distressing end in Portugal, facing difficulties in obtaining accommodation and benefits, and parting from his existing support network of friends and health professionals would amount to a breach Article 3 ECHR and Article 8 ECHR right to private life, on the basis that the financial burden to the local authority to continue to provide support to Mr Almeida would not justify an interference with his private life, given that any potential saving they would make in assisting him to return to Portugal to end his life would be minimal. Mr Almeida's claim was therefore allowed.