In the case of L v Westminster City Council, L, who was an Iranian national and failed asylum seeker, applied for judicial review of the decision of Westminster City Council (WCC) that it did not need to provide him with accommodation under section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948 (the Act).

He had previously suffered from mental health problems and had been supported by the community team before his admission to hospital. It was noted in his care plan that he would require such support following discharge.

WCC’s assessment of him concluded that he did not need to be “looked after” within the terms of the Act and that he should be able to live independently. An independent psychiatrist’s report suggested that limited support should be provided, as too much intervention could be counterproductive for him.

In addition, the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) accepted that it had a duty to provide him with accommodation and did provide such accommodation.

The court found that what L actually needed was to be “kept an eye on” and he did not therefore clear the threshold under section 21 of the Act. If care and attention were required, WCC should ask if it could be provided other than by way of accommodation from WCC. In this case, it was clear that it could so WCC had no duty. The previous line of authority on this remained good law (including R (on the application of Westminster City Council) v National Asylum Support Service (2002)).