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R (on the application of M) (FC) v London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

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Court/Judicial body:: House of Lords 

Citation: [2008] UKHL 14 
Date: 27 February 2008 
Instrument(s) cited: The Children’s Act 1989 Local Authority Social Services Act 1970

Case summary

M, a sixteen year old girl, had been asked to leave her mothers house and approached her local authority for help her find accommodation. She was involved with the criminal justice system at the time. The local authority treated M’s needs as purely a matter of housing and did not refer her to their children’s services department or to social services as they ought to have done. M was placed in and evicted from two hostels for young people. The following year, M was sentenced to a four month detention, during which she turned 18. In bringing the case, M claimed that she was owed duties by the children’s services department under the Children’s Act, because she had been previously under their care. The Court ruled that the local authority should have referred M to child services, but since they did not, child services did not have any duties to her. The relevant legislation meant that the aid that M sought was only available to children who had been brought to the attention of social services, and that since she had not, the courts could not order the local authority to act as if they had.

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