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Urgent care

R (Ali Raja and Ali Hussain) v. Redbridge LBC [2020] EWHC 1456 (Admin).

An important case concerning the power in the Care Act 2014 s19(3) that enables a council, in cases of urgency, to provide support for an adult without having undertaken a formal assessment of needs.

The case concerned two profoundly disabled brothers who lived with their mother and principal carer.  Each brother required repositioning several times during the night and the mother became unable to do this.  A request was made for the care package to be increased to cover this change.  It was supported by expert evidence that – in the court’s opinion – made it clear that each of the brothers had complex manual handling needs, required repositioning several times during the night, which required two people, that the mother was physically unable to do this and there was an immediate need for this support.

Although, in cases of urgency, the Care Act 2014 s19(3) only provides for a ‘power’ not a duty, the claimants’ argued (and the judge accepted) that in this case the ‘sole justifiable response’ was that – on the facts – this power crystallised into a duty.  Public law requires that any statutory discretionary power must be exercised reasonably – and it follows that there will be cases where the only reasonable action, based on the specific facts, is that the pubic body ‘must’ act in a particularly way.

The court concluded that in this case ‘that the sole justifiable response’ was that the council provide the urgent care required.

This is a case where – objectively – the actions of the London Borough of Redbridge were shameful.  In professional terms, however, the person assigned by the council to undertake an assessment at the 11th hour – a Mr Knight (his position / role is unclear from the judgment) – emerges with (as the judge was at pains to stress ) ‘great credit that when he evaluated the position he did so straightforwardly, by reference to his assessment of the merits, and not at all ‘defensively’ given the litigation’ (para 65).

The judgment can be accessed by clicking here.