M, Regina (on the Application of) v London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham: HL 27 Feb 2008

M, a girl aged 16 had become estranged from her mother, and sought housing assistance. She was not referred to the authority’s children’s services, and was not housed. The House examined the duties of local authorities under the section towards children aged 16 and 17 without support from their families. The 1989 Act referred to ‘a child who is looked after by a local authority’.
Held: ‘there is all the difference in the world between the services which an eligible, relevant or former relevant child can expect from her local children’s services authority, to make up for the lack of proper parental support and guidance within the family, and the sort of help which a young homeless person, even if in priority need, can expect from her local housing authority. ‘ Whilst her claim might have better been referred to the childrens serbices department by the Housing department to whom she applied, but they did not. ‘The claim is for the extra help and support available to former relevant children, even after they reach the age of 18, under section 23C of the 1989 Act. To be a relevant child, one must first have been an eligible child: section 23A(1). To be an eligible child one must have been ‘looked after’ by a local authority for the requisite period of time.’ Without having come to the attention of the Children’s Services department, the authority had not provided her with care sufficient for her to become a ‘relevant child’ within section 20.


Lord Hoffmann, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood


[2008] UKHL 14, [2008] Fam Law 515, (2008) 11 CCL Rep 302, [2008] BLGR 159, [2008] 4 All ER 271, [2008] 1 WLR 535, [2008] 3 FCR 688, [2008] 1 FLR 1384




Children Act 1989 22(1), Housing Act 1996 Part VII


England and Wales


Appeal fromM, Regina (on the Application of) v Hammersmith and Fulham CA 5-Jul-2006
The court examined ‘a short but important point on the inter-relationship between the provisions of Part III of the Children Act 1989, headed ‘Local Authority Support for Children and Families’, and the homelessness provisions of Part VII of the . .
CitedRegina v London Borough of Barnet ex parte G; Regina v London Borough of Lambeth ex parte W; Regina v London Borough of Lambeth ex parte A HL 23-Oct-2003
The applicants sought to oblige the local authority, in compliance with its duties under the 1989 Act, to provide a home for children, and where necessary an accompanying adult.
Held: There were four hurdles for the applicants to cross. They . .
CitedSouthwark, London Borough of v D CA 7-Mar-2007
The social worker arranged for D, unable to live with her father because he was violent towards her, to live with his fomer partner. The court was asked whether the local authority had simply facilitated a private fostering arrangement, in which . .
CitedH and others v London Borough of Wandsworth and others Admn 23-Apr-2007
In three linked cases, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children had had assistance with housing from the local social services authorities. They claimed entitlement to support as former relevant children under section 20. The local authorities argued . .
CitedS, Regina (on the Application of) v London Borough of Sutton CA 26-Jul-2007
The local authority owed the section 20(1) duty towards a 17 year old girl who was about to be released from a Secure Training Centre. It argued however that the duty no longer applied because she had agreed to go to a hostel for homeless women . .
CitedL, Regina (on the Application of) v Nottinghamshire County Council Admn 26-Sep-2007
A social worker arranged for L, a seriously troubled young person who had been evicted from her mother’s home, to live for a few days in an hotel.
Held: As she had previously been looked after by the local authority for some time, this would . .

Cited by:

CitedG, Regina (on the Application of) v London Borough Of Southwark HL 20-May-2009
The House was asked whether when a child of 16 or 17 who was ejected from home and presents himself to a local children’s services authority and asks to be accommodated by them under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, it is open to that authority . .
CitedA, Regina (on the Application of) v London Borough of Croydon SC 26-Nov-2009
The applicants sought asylum, and, saying that they were children under eighteen, sought also the assistance of the local authority. Social workers judged them to be over eighteen and assistance was declined.
Held: The claimants’ appeals . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Children, Housing

Updated: 13 July 2022; Ref: scu.265968