The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal over a High Court judge’s dismissal of a legal challenge to the government’s decision to end the ‘Everyone’ initiative which was launched to get the homeless out shelter from the streets during the pandemic.
The applicant in ZLL, R (On Request By) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government  EWHC 85 came to the UK in 2002 and his visa expired in 2004. His immigration status put him in the NRPF category (no recourse to public funds) and he spent many years sleeping rough .
Between March 2020 and April 2021, he was housed in a series of homeless shelters run by various charities. In April 2021 he approached Camden Council for accommodation, building on the ‘Everyone In’ initiative.
Camden acknowledged he had discretion to accommodate him, but said he decided not to exercise that discretion in his case because he was NRPF and not part of the homeless group” most vulnerable and at risk”. A separate application for judicial review challenged this decision and was stayed pending resolution of the application.
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Two grounds for judicial review were invoked:
- Breach of a public law duty by taking an unpublished position inconsistent with published government policy; and
- Breach of a public law duty by failing to consult with Shelter in advance.
Dismissing the challenge, Judge Fordham concluded: “The plaintiff’s representatives have brought before the Court of Judicial Review, for detailed review and consideration, a sequence of events relating to a government homelessness initiative with the resounding title and inclusive of “Everyone in”.
“To the extent that there remain open questions about how this aspect of government policy was expressed and communicated, how it fluctuated, how it was understood, and how NGOs were engaged along the way, these questions belong to the realms of public opinion and politics.
“The role of the Court of Judicial Review, in the exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction, is to apply carefully delineated objective legal standards, in order to guarantee the accountability of public authorities vis-à-vis the law. The objective legal standards invoked in this case have not been violated. The application for judicial review fails.
The plaintiff appealed.
In ZLL, R (On Request By) v Secretary of State for Leveling, Housing and Communities  EWCA Civ 1059 Lord Justice Coulson said there were three reasons why this is now an academic call.
“First, there is no more Lily between the appellant and the respondent. His claim against Camden, which existed at the time of the initial hearing before the judge, has since been compromised. No one has been able to say that there was a residual right or claim available to the appellant which could only be satisfied by the continuation of these proceedings.
“Second, regardless of the position in July 2021 (to which this assertion goes), homelessness policy has continued to evolve. The most recent examples are the Protect and vaccinate policy in December 2021 and the next stage of the RSI program from April 2022. So these procedures no longer appear to serve any useful or relevant purpose for homeless people or local authorities now, and Mr Burton [counsel for the appellant] did not suggest otherwise.
“Thirdly, even taking the appellant’s request to its fullest, there is no longer any problem between the parties. The challenge centered on an alleged lack of transparency: the violation of the obligation to publish at the end of the “Everyone” policy. But even assuming in favor of the appellant that such an obligation existed, it was, in my view, satisfied by the press release relating to Protect and vaccinate, identified in point 11 above. It made clear that as the government’s response to the pandemic continued to evolve, ‘Everyone’ had come to an end, but its success was now bolstered by other initiatives.
“Thus, to the extent that ‘Everyone In’ could be treated as a separate, stand-alone policy (which the judge found was not the case), it was publicly announced on December 20, 2021 that he had taken The purported transparency/publication requirement had therefore been met. Mr. Burton correctly accepted that, if that was the court’s view of the press release, this appeal was indeed academic.
Lord Justice Coulson concluded that the court should not exercise its discretion to hear the appeal anyway. This was “because there is no pure point of law here of the kind identified in Salem. Any question of law in this appeal is irretrievably mired in the judge’s multi-faceted assessment. »
He added that “this was not an appeal that raises a simple or settled question of law, such as the interpretation of a statute. Nor is it a call where dozens of other cases await the outcome of the abstract issue identified by Mr. Burton.
The Court of Appeal judge said the absence of a challengeable decision and any viable claim for relief supported the conclusion that the appeal should be dismissed.
Lady Justice Asplin and Lord Justice Lewison agreed.