Duncan Lewis Solicitors represents the Claimant, LYB, in judicial review proceedings. The present decision concerns an application for permission to judicially review his age assessment decision and interim relief.
LYB is a national of Sudan. He was age disputed and his age assessment concluded on 26 October 2020 that he was 19 years old, although he claimed to be 16.
We sent a letter before action and received a response from the Local Authority maintaining their decision.
We issued a claim for permission and for urgent interim relief on 19 January 2021 arguing the following grounds:
- Kent County Council (CC)'s decision is based on an age assessment that was not 'Merton' compliant or compliant with guidance;
- Kent CC's decision was irrational or otherwise unlawful;
- Kent CC's age assessors further failed to apply the benefit of the doubt in making their decision;
- Kent CC's termination of accommodation and support of LYB was unlawful.
Our application was refused on 20 January 2021. We renewed our application on 28 January 2021 and filed renewal grounds.
An oral permission hearing took place on 10 March 2021, before Roger Ter Haar QC sitting as Deputy High Court Judge, to consider LYB’s application for permission and interim relief. In his judgment, handed down on 22 March 2021, the judge granted LYB permission and ordered for the Defendant to re-accommodate and support LYB pending the outcome of the age assessment judicial review. In his decision, the judge made the following observations:
26. In this case I am satisfied that there is a case on the material before the court which amounts to a case that could succeed in a contested factual hearing. The features which seem to me to point to that conclusion are as follows:
- Most importantly, whilst LYB has given inconsistent accounts, he has on more than one occasion said that he had been told that his date of birth was 20 November 2004;
- His foster carers' impressions of his age support his case: whilst he was not in foster care for a long period, it was long enough for a view to be formed. The social worker's observations were also supportive of his claim;
- In a contested hearing, a court or tribunal would be able to assess the extent to which the trauma which he appears to have suffered affected his history of events;
- The assessors themselves noted that LYB has a "petite body frame with small fingers and feet" and that his "body size is small, which may sometimes visually present as a teenager";
- They also noted the absence of stubble and that LYB did not appear to have a regular shaving habit.
27. For these reasons I am satisfied that I should grant permission to apply for judicial review. In accordance with normal practice, the case will be transferred to the Upper Tribunal to consider the case on its merits.
Immigration solicitor Claire Aziz
, instructed Theo Lester from The 36 Group.