Age assessment – the way forward?

14 February 2020

Upper Tribunal Judge Coker oversaw some interesting discussions during the Age Assessment Forum we held in partnership with Doughty Street Chambers earlier this week.

Applicant and respondent representatives gave their views on current practice and procedure in local authority age assessment cases in the Upper Tribunal and suggested improvements.  The event was attended by more than 60 practitioners and included a presentation by public law barrister Tony Harrop-Griffiths.

If you have any comments about the issues raised at the forum please contact Tony, who is involved in collating ideas for the tribunal to consider.

 Issues raised by participants at the forum included:

  • Better public availability of determinations – to help representatives and judges unfamiliar with the area
  • Delays in resolving cases and the impact on everyone involved
  • Disparity between the High Court and the Tribunal about the test for permission
  • How social workers’ assessments contribute to the outcome of cases – and the value of other evidence

Mitigating the cost to local authorities of losing (and winning):

  • Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)?
  • No order as to costs, like in the Family Court?
  • Specialist age assessment tribunal?

Changes to procedure:

  • Pre-permission disclosure and ADR
  • Issuing claims in the Upper Tribunal and permission decided there
  • Directions for disclosure and witness statements on permission being granted
  • Other standard case management directions
  • Local authority to set its case out in Detailed Grounds
  • Early roundtable meeting
  • Advocates’ meeting (by phone?) for case management purposes rather than to discuss settlement