(Queen's Bench Division; Andrew Nicol sitting as deputy judge of the High Court; 9 July 2007)
The local authority had assessed the 12 year-old autistic child's needs and found that they would be best met by the grandmother, supported by the local authority. The authority also concluded that the child should not attend the residential school favoured by the mother, but should continue to attend at the current day school. The child by his litigation friend the mother applied for judicial review of the decision claiming that the authority had failed (1) to complete an adequate assessment of needs under s 17 Children Act 1989 (2) to complete an adequate assessment of the mother as carer under several statutes (3) to complete an adequate care plan in relation to the child and/or the mother and (4) to provide arrangements for services to the child as a child in need and a disabled child and/or services to mother as carer.
The application for judicial review was dismissed: it was not unlawful for the authority to have policies so long as they were not applied rigidly and individual circumstances were taken account of, as in this case. The decision to refuse funding for a residential school place was not irrational. The authority had carefully considered the facts and addressed measures logically to them. The mother had refused the authority's offer of direct payments in respect of care services for the child under s 17 Children Act 1989, preferring that the authority provide the services directly. The authority had not behaved unlawfully in making the offer in view of the fact that there were no available carers with the appropriate experience to meet the child's needs.