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Judge refuses permission for legal challenge to age assessment

The High Court has refused to allow a judicial review of an age assessment by Cardiff City Council.

Claimant AA said he was a child aged 17 but two Cardiff social workers assessed him as being over 18 and so not entitled to support under the Children Act 1989.

AA sought an order transferring the claim to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) for a fact-finding hearing and a requirement on the council to support and accommodate him as a child.

His Honour Judge Jarman QC noted AA arrived as an unaccompanied asylum seeker in October 2019.

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Immigration officials disbelieved the date of birth he gave and assessed him as aged over 25, and he was sent to accommodation for adult asylum seekers.

HHJ Jarman said In AA, R (On the Application Of) v Cardiff City Council [2021] EWHC 645 (Admin): “The difficulty for the claimant…is that his account of his age is not consistent.”

AA’s willingness to be processed as an adult by the Home Office did not in isolation indicate he was an adult but “far more telling is his account that he was around 17 when he left Iran, that he spent some months in his journey to the UK, and had been in the UK for one year”.

HHJ Jarman went on: “In my judgment that is the key factor in this case. That, taken with the [council’s] assessment of his physical appearance and presentation and his support needs provides a sound basis in my judgment for the defendant's conclusion.”

He said the question he had to decide was whether the material before the court raised a case on which a court or tribunal could properly conclude AA was a child.

“In my judgment in light of the clear analytical reasons set out above, which come from the claimant's own version of events, as opposed simply to a recitation of his claimed birth date, it is not arguable that such a conclusion would be proper”, the judge said.

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