McDermott v London Borough of Croydon

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
JudgeMR JUSTICE MANN
Judgment Date13 Dec 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] EWCA Civ 1696
Docket NumberCase No: B5/2011/2570

[2011] EWCA Civ 1696

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM CROYDON COUNTY COURT

(HIS HONOUR JUDGE ELLIS)

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

Mr Justice Mann

Case No: B5/2011/2570

Between:
McDermott
Appellant
and
London Borough of Croydon
Respondent

Ms Kerry Bretherton appeared on behalf of the Appellant.

The Respondent did not appear and was not represented.

MR JUSTICE MANN
1

This is an oral renewal of an application for permission to appeal from a decision of HHJ Ellis sitting in the Croydon County Court given on 20 September 2011. In that decision he rejected an appeal from the local authority reviewing officer in the matter of their attempt to find re-housing for Mr Lee McDermott, the appellant in this case.

2

I shall deal with the facts as shortly as I can. Mr Lee McDermott suffered a stroke several years ago as a result of which he is significantly disabled physically and to some extent cognitively as well. One of his physical disabilities is that he is now largely bound to a wheelchair and when in a wheelchair one of his legs has to be held in a horizontal position. That means that his turning circle in the wheelchair is greater than would otherwise be the case. That poses obvious difficulties in the basic experience of living in houses with normal sized doorways and normal sized corridors. Mr McDermott and his wife had been in temporary accommodation for some time. They received various offers of premises and the subject premises in this case are the premises at 95 Milne Park East, New Addington. They were offered to Mr McDermott in January of this year and in a letter of 28 January 2011 his solicitors wrote this:

"Further to our letter dated 27 January 2011 our client accepts the property at 95 Milne Park East.

For the avoidance of any confusion this acceptance is given subject to our client's contention that:—

a) this was not a second and final offer, the first offer having been withdrawn;

b) that our client is entitled to and does challenge the suitability of the property for the reasons set out in the review letter referred to above."

3

The council, having considered their obligations to house Mr McDermott, proffered the property and there was a challenge as to its suitability. That suitability was determined in the first instance by a review officer, Andy Griffin. Mr Griffin, having considered the matter in a review letter dated 2 March 2011, came to the conclusion that the premises were indeed suitable for Mr McDermott. There is a right of appeal under section 204 of the Housing Act 1996 to the county court. Mr McDermott exercised that right of appeal and it is the decision on that appeal in respect of which Mr McDermott now seeks to appeal again because the county court judge dismissed the appeal.

4

The way the matters have boiled down there are two principal matters arising. They are not quite the same as those dealt with by Patten LJ when he refused permission on paper on 14 November 2011. In his first ground he said that, in the light of certain factors, the appeal was academic, and in the second he pointed out that the only really live ground which satisfied the requirements for a second appeal was a point about breach of an Equality Act duty and he held that it had no reasonable prospect of success. For reasons that will appear, I do not need to deal with the academic nature of this appeal, if any. Before me Miss Bretherton, in her commendably succinct submissions, said that the matter essentially boiled down to two points. The first was a point about access to the kitchen. It was accepted by the council that with the physical disability of...

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