R (Sambotin) v Brent LBC  

[2018] EWCA Civ 1826

Henderson, Longmore, Jackson LJJ

31st July 2018

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by a local authority in which they had sought to withdraw a concluded decision as to what duty was owed to a homeless person; such a decision could only be withdrawn in cases of fraud or fundamental mistake of fact, neither of which were present.

Justin Bates and Alice Richardson appeared for Mr Sambotin

 

Once a local housing authority have reached a conclusion as to what, if any, duty is owed to an applicant under Part 7, Housing Act 1996, they may only re-open that decision where there has been fraud or deception (R v Southwark LBC ex p Dagou (1995) 28 HLR 72) or a fundamental mistake of fact (Porteous v West Dorset DC [2004] EWCA Civ 244, [2004] HLR 30).

Mr Sambotin was a Romanian national. In October 2013, he came to the UK to take up employment and worked in various jobs throughout England. In September 2015, whilst on holiday in Romania, he was involved in a serious traffic accident which left him wheel-chair bound. He returned to the UK in February 2016 and moved into a flat in Waltham Forest. In August 2016, he applied to Waltham Forest LBC for assistance under Part 7. The authority decided that he was not eligible for assistance. In November 2016, he moved to a flat in Brent and, in December 2016, applied for assistance from Brent LBC. He provided the authority with a copy of the earlier decision made by Waltham Forest. Brent decided that he was eligible for assistance and was owed the full housing duty but that they would refer his application to Waltham Forest under the local connection provisions.

Waltham Forest refused to accept the referral, relying on their earlier decision that he was not eligible for assistance. In response, Brent notified Mr Sambotin that they had now determined that he was not eligible for assistance and sought to withdraw their earlier decision. Mr Sambotin issued judicial review proceedings contending that Brent were not entitled to do so.

The claim was allowed ([2017] EWHC 1190 (Admin); [2017] HLR 31). Brent had made a final and concluded decision that Mr Sambotin was eligible for assistance. A final decision could only be revisited in the event of fraud or deception, or a fundamental mistake of fact, neither of which was present.

Brent appealed to the Court of Appeal, contending that no final decision had been reached so that they were entitled to make further enquiries. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The decision of the High Court was clearly correct for the reasons which it had given.