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City council defeats judicial review challenge over age assessment

Manchester City Council has defeated a judicial review challenge in a dispute about the age of a young man who immigrated from Guinea.

The council had carried out an age assessment and concluded he was 20 years old rather than 17 as claimed.

F had sought asylum in the UK, claiming to be in fear of his life from his father.

He challenged Manchester’s assessment by means of a document obtained from a  court in the Guinean capital Conakry that gave a declaration of his date of birth.

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Manchester City Council Child Protection Lawyers

F asked Manchester to reassess his age based on this and evidence from a support worker and a missionary who knew him.

Manchester refused on the grounds that the evidence was unreliable, since the Guinean court order said it had been made by the father of whom he was supposedly in fear of his life. A priest named Pastor Goa later claimed to have sought the order in Conakry.

F argued that Manchester’s stance was Wednesbury unreasonable.

In F, R (On the Application Of) v Manchester City Council [2019] EWHC 2998 (Admin) Knowles J said: “In my judgment it is impossible to characterise [Manchester’s] decision as irrational. Its evidence [that the case] did not meet the threshold test to trigger a re-assessment was one which was reasonably open to it....

“The high point of the claimant's case is obviously the court document from the court in Conakry. However, on analysis this, together with the various statements of Pastor Goa, raises more questions than it answers, and [Manchester] was entitled to reject it as a sufficiently firm basis to require a re-assessment of the claimant's age.”

Mark Smulian

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