Govan Law Centre petition for judicial review over social work committee’s decision progresses
Govan Law Centre (GLC) has secured permission for a petition for judicial review to proceed which challenges a decision of a social work complaints review committee that was subsequently ratified by a local authority.
Counsel for the local authority had argued before Lord Pentland on 29 July 2016 that the petitioner had failed to exhaust his remedies and ought to have complained to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman(SPSO). The failure to do so, it was argued, rendered the petition for judicial review incompetent, and therefore it fell to be dismissed.
The defender relied on the cases of W v Scottish Ministers 2010 SLT 65 and McCue v Glasgow City Council 2014 SLT 891 - none of which addressed the specific issue of the SPSO.
The petitioner argued that having regard to the terms of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 and the jurisdiction and powers of the SPSO thereunder, and the SPSO’s own guidance on social work complaints, it was clear the SPSO could not deal with the subject matter of the petition - which claimed the council’s decision was Wednesbury unreasonable and irrational in law - nor could the SPSO provide the remedy of reduction, which the petition sought.
Lord Pentland rejected the local authority’s arguments on this point, and held that the SPSO did not oust the jurisdiction of the Court of Session in a petition for judicial review that claimed a social work decision was unlawful; and sought reduction of that decision.
Permission was granted and a substantive hearing was assigned. GLC’s Mike Dailly appeared for the petitioner and Jillian Martin-Brown appeared for the local authority.