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Court: Queen’s Bench Division (Administrative Court)

High Court finds that the National Crime Agency’s investigation was flawed in Unexplained Wealth Order case

National Crime Agency v Baker & Ors [2020] EWHC 882 (Admin)

This case was an application to discharge three unexplained wealth orders and related interim freezing orders. The National Crime Agency had adduced evidence to the effect that the disputed properties in the matter were acquired as a means of laundering the proceeds of unlawful conduct by an individual, ‘RA.’ The UWOs sought information about the purchases and transfers of the three properties, details about the registered owners and beneficial owners. The Respondents and Ultimate Beneficial Owners (‘UBOs’) provided extensive information but contended that the basis of the NCA’s application was factually incorrect, as the purchases were unconnected to RA, his supposed criminal activities and he was never the UBO of the properties. The NCA refused to withdraw the UWOs and the Respondents and UBOs brought judicial review proceedings.

In determining whether or not the NCA’s grounds for the making of the UWOs was lawful and justified, the Court found that in relation to Property 1 the NCA’s assumption that RA was the founder and source of its founds was unreliable. Concerning Property 3, there was no inference that it was the product of unlawful conduct while the NCA’s assumptions regarding Property 2 were found to be unreliable on the evidence. The court granted the applications to discharge the orders.

High Court declares bereavement support laws incompatible with human rights

Jackson & Ors v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2020] EWHC 183 (Admin)

This case concerned a challenge to bereavement support payments under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights in conjunction with Article 8. Widowed parent’s allowance (“WPA”) is payable under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, section 39A in respect of deaths occurring on or before 5 April 2017, if (simplifying) the […]

Administrative Court dismisses challenge to funding decisions regarding special educational needs

Simone & ors v Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Education [2019] EWHC 2609 (Admin)

The Claimants sought to challenge both the decision-making surrounding the 2018 Budget, and the Defendants’ alleged “ongoing failure” to provide sufficient central funding for children and young people with special educational needs. They argued that the Defendants’ decisions had been taken in breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty and the “general” duty in s 7 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 to promote the wellbeing of children in England; had been irrational; and had violated Article 14 ECHR taken with Article 2 of Protocol 1 (the right to education).

Following a rolled-up hearing, the Administrative Court (Lewis J) granted permission but dismissed the claim, finding that the decisions had been reasonably open to the Defendants, had not been discriminatory, and had been taken in a manner consistent with the Defendants’ statutory obligations.

Judgment in Universal Credit minimum income floor challenge

R (Charmain Parkin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 2356 (Admin)

The High Court dismissed a challenge to the Regulations providing for a deemed income – the minimum income floor – to be used to assess gainfully self-employed universal credit claimants’ income instead of their actual income. This has the effect of reducing many low-earning self-employed claimants’ entitlement to Universal Credit. Ms Parkin’s evidence was that she had been forced to rely on charity and food banks as a result.

The claim was brought on the basis that the relevant Regulations were unlawfully discriminatory, were irrational and had not been passed in accordance with the Secretary of State’s public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010, s 149. The Court concluded that although employment and self-employment were each a ‘status’ within the meaning of ECHR, art 4 the two groups were not in an analogous position and that, in any event, the measure was not manifestly without reasonable foundation. As such, although employed and self-employed Universal Credit claimants were treated differently, this was not unlawful discrimination contrary to art 14. The Court also held that the relevant Regulations were not irrational and that due regard had been paid to the matters set out in Equality Act 2010, s 149.

Claims against the Defence Secretary by individuals alleging they were CHIS in Afghanistan dismissed

K, A & B v Secretary of State for Defence & Ors [2019] EWHC 1757 (Admin)

These judicial review proceedings concern Afghan nationals who claimed that they worked for the defendants in Afghanistan as covert human intelligence sources and that due to this they were forced to move from where they lived to protect themselves. They claimed that the defendants ought to provide financial assistance to help protect them from the threats, deal with their consequences, and as compensation.
The defendants conducted an assessment of each of the claimants’ circumstances, particularly concerning the alleged risks to their security in Afghanistan, in order to determine whether any action should be taken with respect to them. The defendants rejected the claimants’ accounts and the claimants brought judicial review proceedings.

The court dismissed the claim. Having considered material in both open and closed court, the court concluded that the assessments made of each of the claimants were lawful, and that no further action was required by the defendants.
The court concluded that the defendants were reviewing afresh the implications of further information as it came in rather than unduly striving to maintain a decision. The court held that there was no culture of disbelief, but rather reasoned assessments. It also held that the assessments focused on important factors and not minor inconsistencies within the claimants’ testimonies, and that the areas where the claimants’ evidence had been rejected as untruthful or unreliable could not be explained away by any difficulties in giving evidence, tiredness, losing the thread or interpretation.