Age disputes generally arise in the context of asylum seekers, most of whom come to the UK from countries where birth is not properly documented.
Establishing someone’s age is important because it affects the services that are available to them from a Local Authority under the Children Act 1989. The most important of these are accommodation, financial support and education. Age also affects how other public bodies like the UK Border Agency treat a person and whether they can be detained or removed from the UK.
Clients instruct us to help them obtain and challenge age assessments and re-assessments based on fresh evidence. We also deal with putting the right, age-appropriate, services in place for our clients. This might be a foster placement rather than semi-independent accommodation, or school enrolment rather than college.
Nicola Daniel heads up the Age Disputes team. Reported cases in which she has been involved include:
- M v Lambeth LBC – Supreme Court decision 26 November 2009 – The case was successful in that the court decided that age is initially to be determined by Local Authority social workers but if disputed, age will be decided by the Courts.
- WK v SSHD & Kent CC – Previous decision of the High Court overturned and our appeal allowed in relation to the role of medical evidence in age disputes.
- A v Leicester CC & LB Hillingdon – We were successful in arguing that both Local Authorities owed a duty to the Claimant at the same time and both were in breach of those duties.
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