Age Dispute: Khatija Hafesji succeeds in age dispute fact-finding hearing

21 Jun 2024

R (RK) v London Borough of Newham (JR-2023-LON-001029)

In a judgment handed down on 19th June 2024, Upper Tribunal Judge Reeds found – as a matter of fact – that the Applicant was of his claimed age.

Khatija Hafesji acted for the Applicant, who had arrived to the UK from Iran as an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child in October 2021. He had been assessed by the Respondent, the London Borough of Newham, to be an adult aged between 21 and 25 years, with a likely age of 22.

In April 2023, Khatija successfully obtained interim relief for the Applicant, with the effect that Newham was ordered to treat him in accordance with his claimed age pending the Tribunal’s determination of his claim.

The matter was determined following a five-day fact-finding hearing heard over February and March 2024. It is of note that the Tribunal: (i) accepted that the “short-form” assessment of the Applicant’s age carried out by the Kent Intake Unit should not be afforded “any weight” by the Tribunal either as evidence of the Applicant’s age or as evidence concerning the Applicant’s credibility; (ii) accepted that the Applicant’s failure to produce an identity document should not support an adverse inference against his claimed age in circumstances where he had a genuine fear of contacting his family in Iran; (iii) gave weight to the evidence of RK’s peers and the evidence of the Applicant’s litigation friend; and (iv) accepted the Applicant’s submission that the nature of the his relationship with his social worker, which the social worker conceded in cross-examination was not “a relationship characterised by trust”, was relevant to the weight the Upper Tribunal could attach to her evidence as to the Applicant’s age.

The Tribunal accordingly accepted that the Applicant was of his claimed age.

Khatija Hafesji represented the Applicant and was instructed by Alex McMahon of Osbornes Law Solicitors.