• In the case of Runa Begum v Tower Hamlets LBC [2003] UKHL 5; [2003] 2 AC 430, it was found that Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights can be met in the context of social security. This is applicable where the decision-maker in their administrative capacity is not independent nor impartial if there exists a procedure in place which ensures fair treatment of applicants for housing.

Facts of the Case

  • C was offered accommodation by D, the local authority through the course of D’s duties to homeless people as per section 202 of the Housing Act 1996.
  • C claimed that the accommodation was in an area that was “drug addicted” and racist and therefore refused to accept the accommodation.
  • C asserted that the accommodation that was being offered ought to be reviewed, which was to be carried out by the rehousing manager.
  • The manager refused to review the accommodation as unreasonable which meant that D discharged their duties and C would ultimately be left homeless.
  • Under section 204 of the Housing Act 1996, C was entitled to the statutory right of appeal to the County Court.
  • The County Court, however, can only review points of law, therefore they ought to accept the facts found by D.


  • Under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, was the right to have their civil rights determined by an “independent and impartial tribunal?”

Held by the House of Lords

  • The House of Lords dismissed the appeal and found that Article 6(1) was not breached.

Lord Bingham of Cornhill

  • Lord Bingham affirmed that the decision maker did not encapsulate an “independent and impartial tribunal” in light of Article 6(1) ECHR. Despite this, it was found that there existed procedural safeguards that were substantial enough to constitute fairness of the review process.
  • “in a context such as this, the absence of a full fact-finding jurisdiction in the tribunal to which appeal lies from an administrative decision-making body does not qualify that tribunal for purposes of article 6(1).” [11]