Law Report: Regina v Poole Borough Council, Ex parte Cooper. Queen's Bench Division (Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC). 3 October 1994.: Inquiries about homeless person not confidential

The information solicited and received by a local housing authority in performing its statutory duty to make inquiries about the homelessness of an applicant claiming accommodation is not confidential and has to be disclosed to the applicant.

Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, sitting as a deputy judge, quashed the council's decision that the applicant, Jenni Cooper, was intentionally homeless.

In March 1993, the applicant was granted a one-year tenancy by a private landlord. She occupied the premises with her baby son. In June 1993, the landlord served a notice seeking possession of the property on the ground that nuisance had been caused to adjoining occupiers, despite two written and two verbal warnings. The county court ordered the applicant to give possession in October 1993. She applied to the council for accommodation as a homeless person under the Housing Act 1985.

The council wrote to the landlord for assistance in its inquiries under section 62. The landlord, replying in strict confidence, told the council that her boyfriend had moved in and created problems.

The landlord also described an incident, after the applicant had moved out, when his car's tyres had been slashed in his driveway and the bodywork scratched, saying that although he had no proof, he was convinced that it was the applicant's boyfriend or friends.

The council gave the substance of the information received from the landlord to the applicant but did not disclose the correspondence and did not refer to the tyre-slashing incident. The council decided that the applicant's homelessness was intentional. The applicant applied for judicial review of the council's decision on the ground that the failure to disclose the correspondence to the applicant was unfair to the applicant and constituted a procedural irregularity.

William Flenley (McQueen Yeoman, Poole) for the applicant; Timothy Straker (Council Solicitor) for the council.

SIR LOUIS BLOM-COOPER QC said that the landlord's letter was highly biased against the applicant. The tyre-slashing incident occurred after the applicant ceased to occupy the premises, but if true, reflected discreditably on the applicant.

The issue raised was whether the council's correspondence was confidential and so not disclosable.

A local authority could not allow a third party who supplied information to affect adversely the relationship between the claimant to housing and the local housing authority. A local authority which was statutorily required to make inquiries received information impressed with a statutorily imposed duty to use that information for the public purpose of assessing and evaluating an applicant's homelessness.

A local authority should invariably tell a prospective informant that anything said might have to be made available to the homeless person. Failure by the local authority to impose such a condition on the supplier of information could not absolve the local authority from its duty to disclose the information, if fairness to the homeless person demanded it.

Where information was unsolicited, confidentiality did not arise and the local authority had the unimpeded duty to disclose the information.

In the absence of any statutory indicator about the status of information received under section 62, the court would always order disclosure to the applicant for the purpose of ensuring fairness to the applicant in the local authority's assessment and evaluation of the material.

The landlord's letter contained information that materially affected the applicant's case on the issue of her intentionality.

The tyre-slashing incident must have influenced the council in assessing the credibility of her claim that she had not been responsible for the nuisance. In fairness, the applicant was entitled to have that information and to refute it, if she could. The council's decision would be quashed.

voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Mechanical Design Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Mechanical E...


£200 - £260 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Accountant, Reconciliations, Bristo...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn