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Supreme Court to determine ‘ordinary residence’ for deciding which LA owes duties to individual

Judgment due 8th July

On the 8th July the Supreme Court will deliver judgment in R (on the application of Cornwall Council) v Somerset County Council. The Court will consider the proper approach to the determination of a person's 'ordinary residence' within the meaning, and for the purposes, of Part III of the National Assistance Act 1948 ("the NAA"), where that person lacks capacity to decide where to live.

Local authorities have a wide range of duties to secure the provision of care and other types of assistance for certain children and vulnerable adults. Criteria have to be identified to determine which authority has the obligation. In a general sense it will be the authority with which the individual has the closest connection. Some test has to be adopted to reflect that general notion, and typically this is to ask where the person is ordinarily resident.

In this case the Secretary of State was statutorily empowered to resolve a dispute. The issue he had to decide was where PH, a severely disabled person lacking capacity, was ordinarily resident when he turned 18. He concluded that it was in Cornwall which, if he is correct, will therefore have to cover the cost – currently estimated at some £80k a year – for providing the necessary care for PH throughout his life. Cornwall challenged that determination by way of judicial review before Beatson J, as he then was, but were unsuccessful. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and declared South Gloucestershire to be the ordinary place of residence at the relevant time.

The Court of Appeal judgment is here.