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No such thing as an 'ordinary homeless person'

Matt Hutchings discusses the Supreme Court's interpretation of vulnerability in Hotak, Kanu and Johnson

26 May 2015

On 13 May, in three appeals about priority need for the homeless (Hotak, Kanu, and Johnson [2015] UKSC 30), the Supreme Court overturned the test
used by local authorities for
16 years to decide whether a homeless person is ‘vulnerable’ and so in priority need of accommodation.

The court ruled that the correct comparison is with an ‘ordinary person’ so that the
test is ‘significantly more vulnerable’ than an ordinary person. It also gave short shrift to the argument that parliament had implicitly approved the previous case law by not legislating to reverse it.

The Supreme Court agreed there should be a substantial modification of the principles
in the leading Court of Appeal cases, Pereira and Osmani.
The history of the case law leading up to the Supreme Court decision may be viewed
as a cautionary tale abou...

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