Home > News > XXX v Camden LBC [2020] EWCA Civ 1468, McCombe, Moylan, Dingemans LJJ

The fact that a person is an applicant for an allocation of social housing must not be disclosed to another member of the public without the consent of the applicant: s.166(4), Housing Act 1996. CPR 39.2(4) provides that a court may order that the identify of a party shall not be disclosed if that is necessary to secure the proper administration of justice and in order to protect the interests of that person.

XXX had applied for an allocation of social housing from Camden LBC. Camden accepted her application but, under the terms of their allocation scheme, awarded her zero points in respect of any medical conditions. She considered that this was an error and sought judicial review of the decision. She was granted permission for her judicial review claim at an oral hearing and a transcript of that decision published online. Her substantive claim was dismissed and a transcript of that decision was also published online. Both of those published judgments contained her name and details of her physical and mental illnesses.

When XXX became aware that the judgments had been published, her mental health further deteriorated as a result of her distress that her name and personal details were in the public domain. She applied for an order under CPR 39.2(4) that the two judgments should retrospectively be anonymised. A Deputy High Court Judge made an order anonymising her name in the present proceedings, but dismissed her application to anonymise the previous judgments. XXX subsequently obtained pro bono representation via the Bar Pro Bono Unit and appealed to the Court of Appeal. In the appeal, she raised a new argument that the judge had failed to consider the importance of s.166(4), 1996 Act, which, by analogy, supported an anonymity order in a judicial review of a decision about the allocation of social housing.

The appeal was dismissed. Section 166(4) did not apply to judicial review claims and did not afford a basis for making an anonymity order. The judge had properly applied CPR 39.2(4) and his decision could not be faulted.

Justin Bates and Alex Shattock appeared for XXX, instructed by Advocate (the Bar Pro Bono Unit). The judgment can be found here.

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