• In the case of De winter Heald v Brent LBC [2009] EWCA Civ 930; [2010] 1 wlr 990, it was found that a local authority could outsource its role to review decisions about housing assistance and it can be deemed as compatible with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Facts of the Case

  • The applicants asked for the reviewal of a local authority’s decision about housing assistance under sections 202 and 203 of the Housing Act 1996.
  • D, the local authority, contracted out their role of reviewing to an external source, C.
  • Cs manager that carried out the view upheld the housing assistance decision made originally by the local authority.
  • Under section 204 of the Housing Act 1996, the applicants appealed this decision, which were dismissed by the County Court.
  • There were three grounds under which the applicants appealed C’s decision:
  • The reviewed weren’t lawful because they were carried out by an external source as opposed to an employee of D
  • C’s decision breached the applicant’s Article 6 rights (which refers to the right to a fair hearing)
  • The decision made by C were biased.


  • Was it unlawful for the local housing authority to outsource its reviewing functions under section 202 of the Housing Act 1996?

Held by the Court of Appeal

  • The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and found that it was not unlawful for the local authority to contract out the reviewing of the housing assistance.

Stanley Burnton LJ

  • His Lordship asserted that under Article 3 of the Local Authorites (Contracting Out of Allocation of Housing and Homelessness Functions) Order 1996, the local authority were permitted to allow an employee that is authorised by them to carry out a specific function.
  • His Lordship also determined the test for bias: “The test for apparent bias is well established: “Would a fair minded and informed observer conclude that there was a real possibility, or a real danger, the two being the same, that the tribunal was biased?”’ [57]

Editor’s Notes

  • This case establishes the powers conferred to a local authority to outsource specific roles to third parties. It could be argued that doing so can allow a public body to be efficient in their operations by contracting out tasks to even out workload and thereby operate effectively.