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Luke Davey’s unsuccessful Judicial Review against Oxfordshire - a social work perspective

The aim of this report is to consider what social workers can learn from this first judicial review of the application of the Care Act 2014. It comprises of the following:

- why the case was brought
- the reasons given by Justice Morris gave for dismissing the case that are of particular relevance for social workers
- reflections on the evidence provided in the case records and in witness statements given by the social worker
- comments on the consequences of how the Care Act was applied

The analysis presented here focuses on the implications for practice. Readers who interested in a legal perspective should read the article on this case by Belinda Schwehr at www.schwehroncare.co.uk.

A key factor in this case was that the social worker was able to demonstrate that the decisions taken by Oxfordshire County Council were legally defensible and that her professional judgment was sound. However, Justice Morris did not accept some of the explanations of how the personal budget was constructed as being valid. This report explores the decision-making process and professional judgments, including looking at the relationship between case records and witness statements, and concludes with observations on how the needs assessment and care and support planning processes was presented.

The case did not test the initial assertion made by Luke Davey that Oxfordshire County Council had set a budget and then assessed his needs to fit that budget. This was because as the case developed Luke Davey modified his position. Nevertheless, some of the arguments rehearsed in this case are useful in delineating the relationship between needs and the sufficiency of the personal budget to meet them.