Right to accommodation under s.193 Housing Act 1996 is not a “civil right” for purposes of Art 6 ECHR

May 17, 2017

In Poshteh v Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea [2017] UKSC 36 the Supreme Court has revisited the question of whether decisions by local housing authorities as to the duty owed under Part VII Housing Act 1996 amount to the “determination of a civil right” which engages the right to a hearing before an impartial and independent tribunal under art 6 ECHR.

It had previously held, in Ali v Birmingham City Council [2010] UKSC 8; [2010] 2 AC 39 that the right to accommodation under s.193 Housing Act 1996 was not a “civil right” for the purposes of art 6(1) ECHR. However the Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights subsequently decided that art 6(1) was engaged, but the scheme under Part VII Housing Act 1996 offered adequate protection as regards the judicial determination of that right, even though the county court did not have jurisdiction to conduct a full review of the facts on an appeal under s.204 Housing Act 1996 (Ali v United Kingdom (2015) 63 EHRR 20).

In Poshteh, the Supreme Court reviewed the position and held that the decision of the Chamber of the ECtHR was not a sufficient reason to depart from its own fully considered and unanimous decision in Ali v Birmingham City Council. In the absence of a decision of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR, the position in domestic law remains that a decision as to the duty owed under Part VII Housing Act 1996 does not engage art 6 ECHR.

The Court confirmed that the principles governing the right of appeal under s.204 HA 1996 have been authoritatively established in Runa Begum v London Borough of Tower Hamlets [2003] UKHL 5; [2003] 2 AC 430 and subsequent cases, and should be regarded as settled.

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