East Renfrewshire Council Appeal against decision of sheriff at Paisley [2016] SAC (Civ) 14

http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/docs/default-source/sheriff-appeal-court-(civil)/2016-sac-(civ)-014.pdf?sfvrsn=2 (Sheriff Appeal Court, 25 November 2016)

Background: D (15 years old) was born and brought up initially in Highland Council. He was accommodated by Highland Council in 2012. He was moved to a residential unit in Lancashire (where he has continued to live) and Highland Council was specified as the implementation authority in D’s CSO. In 2013 his mother and brother moved to East Renfrewshire Council. Partly to facilitate contact, the CSO was varied to change the implementation authority to East Renfrewshire. A dispute arose between the 2 local authorities, which had the substantial cost of D’s accommodation at its root.

The Sheriff held that the “relevant local authority” was the one with which D had the closest connection (s201(1)(b) 2011 Act), to which there is an exception in s201(3)(a): “no account is to be taken of …any connection with an area that relates to a period of residence in a residential establishment.”

Held: The court concluded that:

“… what requires to be disregarded is not the 3 year+ period spent in the residential establishment in Lancashire but rather “any connection with an area” and the area is one that “relates to the period of residence in a residential establishment”. In this appeal that area is in Lancashire. … The sheriff was entitled to conclude … ‘As at the date of the children’s hearing … the child had no connection with the Highland area. His closest connection is with the area of East Renfrewshire Council, that being where his immediate family, his mother and his brother, live.’” [21]

The court also agreed with the Sheriff’s conclusion that “the welfare of the child is an irrelevant consideration in determining the relevant local authority.” [25]