29th July 2005

 

It will never be easy for a judge to say that an experienced, senior housing officer, who has considered all the reports available and all the representations made by an applicant's solicitors, has made an error of law when considering that it was unnecessary to carry out further inquiries.

In each case it was for the council to judge what inquiries were necessary, and it was susceptible to a successful challenge on a point of law if (and only if) a judge in the county court considered that no reasonable council could have failed to regard as necessary any further inquiries suggested by the appellants' advisers.

In the Cramp case it was the duty of the reviewing officer to decide whether it was necessary to make any further inquiries of a psychiatrist before making her decision. She had read all the available reports and interviewed Mr Cramp herself for 75 minutes, and she was quite capable of deciding whether Mr Cramp was vulnerable due to his mental condition without having to wait until such time as he had recovered sufficiently from his addiction to drugs for a confident diagnosis of an anxiety disorder or mood disorder to be made.

Similarly in the Phillips case it was pure speculation on the judge's part to think that an approach to a probation officer would have yielded more information than Camden already possessed. It was not open to him to quash Camden's decision as a matter of law on the grounds "that it would have been helpful" if those inquiries had been made, or that "there might well have been additional information" which the probation officer could have given.

 

Update

Please now see the case of Pieretti v Enfield - which highlights the Council's duty under the Disability Discrimination Act to take proper account of the effect of disability on behaviour which may lead to a decision of intentionality (even if they are not invited to do so).


 

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