Vulnerability and priority need: triple whammy in the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court, which was already considering the case of Hotak v Southwark LBC will also consider, in a three day hearing, whether permission should be granted in the case of Johnson v Solihull MBC and Kanu v Southwark LBC.
Johnson raises the question of the test for vulnerability. The Appellant challenges the long-established Pereira test and asks whether the Court of Appeal decided that wrongly. If not, what did they mean by the “ordinary homeless person” – the comparator by which vulnerability is judged?
Kanu, like Hotak is a case on the application of the Pereira test to an applicant who is, if on his own, vulnerable, but who has the benefit of care and assistance from a family member who would prevent him from suffering harm even if street homeless. These cases ask whether the local authority should ignore that care and assistance when assessing vulnerability; Kanu also poses the question of the effect of the public sector equality duty on the assessment of vulnerability, the Court of Appeal having held that it added nothing to the exercise already carried out by the local authority.
The three cases are listed together on 15-17 December 2014. Kelvin Rutledge QC leads Catherine Rowlands, both of Cornerstone.
It is interesting to note that the previous week, on 11th December, the Supreme Court will be considering the Equality Duty in the case of Aster Communities Ltd v Akerman-Livingstone. It is understood that the same panel will hear all four cases.