On appeal from: [2008] EWCA Civ 1445

Lambeth and Croydon decided respectively that the appellants M and A were adults and so they refused to provide accommodation for them under the Children Act 1989.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed M and A’s appeals. The duty on local authorities to provide services etc under the 1989 Act was not owed only to a person who appeared to the local authority to be a child. The many references to “a child” in the 1989 Act must mean a person who was, in fact, a child. There was a right or wrong answer to that question. Per Lady Hale, who gave the lead judgment; it was unnecessary to give a firm answer to the question of whether the authorities’ age determinations could be contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998, in that they were contrary to the procedural protections of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. See paras 34, 44-45 for her opinion on this issue, and 55-65 for that of Lord Hope.

For judgment, please download: [2009] UKSC 8

For the Court’s press summary, please download: Press Summary

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