In the case of R (SG) v London Borough of Haringey John Bowers QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, made a curious finding that even if an individual had an 'accommodation-related' need for care and support the local authority were only under a discretionary power rather than a duty to meet the need for accommodation. Of course, an accommodation-related need can only arise where the provision of accommodation is necessary in order for the individual's needs for care and support can be met.
Although the claimant in SG had been successful on other grounds, and in practical terms she had obtained that which she sought, she appealed that aspect of the judgment as a point of public interest.
The Court of Appeal ( EWCA Civ 322) declined to hear the point, considering it to be academic. It did make clear, however, that the judgment of John Bowers QC should not be read as determining whether a duty or power arises. Instead, the discretion to which the judge referred "is no more than a passing observation rather than a reasoned judicial conclusion on a matter which the judge understood to be at the centre of his decision" .
The thorny issue, having reared its head, has been put back in its box, ready to be argued another day!
Jamie Burton and Sam Jacobs acted for the Appellant.