High Court dismisses judicial review of decision by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator


Re: Re: Sharp v OSA [2023] EWHC 1242 (Admin)

The Claimant sought to challenge a decision made by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator.

The Claimant raised two discrete grounds of challenge. First, that the Adjudicator erred in considering that unenforceable promises made to various parents, or misleading them in any way, could give rise to unfairness sufficient to give substance to those parents’ objections to the existing oversubscription criteria. Secondly that, having found in favour of the parents, the Adjudicator erred in considering that it was not necessary to look more widely at what the effect of upholding their objection would be on other admissions to the schools, with the result that the outcome was an amended policy which was itself unfair.

The Court rejected the claim on both grounds, holding that, in considering fairness, an Adjudicator is not restricted to giving effect to legal rights, but may take into account factors that do not give rise to legal rights. On the facts of this case the Adjudicator was entitled to conclude that she did not need to balance the interests of the objectors against others who might be disadvantaged because there was an available scheme which did not disadvantage anyone.

Claire Darwin KC acted for The Secretary of State for Education, instructed by the Government Legal Department

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