In Adesotu v Lewisham [2019] EW Misc 3 (CC) the County Court considered a novel point of homelessness law: whether, in statutory homelessness appeals, the County Court has jurisdiction to entertain allegations of unlawful discrimination.

The Appellant claimed that the local authority had discriminated against her during the homelessness process.  Lewisham had made a final offer of accommodation and – despite the Appellant having notified the housing officers of her ill-health, and that it prevented her from moving from her temporary accommodation – they told the Appellant that she should move to the new accommodation within a few days or their duty to house her would be discharged.  The Appellant was equivocal about whether she would accept the offer, but did not move in within the timeframe required.  The local authority decided that the Appellant had refused the offer and that the homelessness duty was therefore discharged, and that decision was upheld on review.

The Appellant issued a statutory appeal, alleging (among other things) that the council’s treatment of her had amounted to indirect discrimination and discrimination arising from disability, in breach of sections 19 and 15 of the Equality Act 2010.

Initially, the local authority did not dispute that the County Court has jurisdiction to entertain the discrimination grounds and filed evidence in response.  However, on the morning of the appeal, the borough changed its position and applied to strike out the discrimination grounds.

In a reserved judgment, HHJ Luba QC noted that there is a tension in the earlier authorities binding on the County Court.  He struck out the discrimination grounds but granted permission to appeal.

Nick Bano was instructed by Morrison Spowart solicitors for the Appellant.