R ota Nfuni v Solihull MBC [2013] EWHC 3155

October 27th, 2013

In this case the claimant was a failed asylum seeker. She had arrived in the UK at the age of 16. When she turned 18, the local authority continued to support her accommodation and education under section 23C of the Children Act 1989. This imposes after-care duties towards “former relevant children”, including by subsection (4) financial assistance in connection with education or training “to the extent that [her] welfare and [her] educational or training needs require it”.

The authority’s pathway plan for the claimant stated that she intended to apply for a university place but that her immigration status would make this difficult. She did indeed apply, but before she had been informed whether her applications had been successful, the authority gave her 1 month’s notice of termination of her accommodation funding. Her applications for a university place were then rejected, but she was offered a place on a foundation course which might lead to a university course. The authority decided that she had no educational need for such a course, given her pathway plan and her immigration status. It referred to the Court of Appeal decision in R (Kebede) v Newcastle CC [2013] 16 CCLR 388 where the Court held that the immigration status of a former relevant child was relevant to the issue of the extent of his or her welfare and educational needs.

The claimant brought judicial review proceedings, asserting that the authority was in breach of its section 23C duties.

The Court held that the pathway plan did envisage the authority supporting a university place should she obtain one, but she did not do so. At that point, she ceased to follow the pathway plan with the result that the authority’s duties under section 23C came to an end. Nor did a duty arise under section 23CA (duties to a former relevant child to whom section 23C duties are no longer owed).

Peter Oldham QC

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