Navigating housing rights, education and religious freedom: Ghaoui


In Ghaoui v London Borough of Waltham Forest [2024] EWCA Civ 405, Mr Ghaoui, his wife and two young children lived in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. They were rendered homeless in April 2019 and Mr Ghaoui applied to the local authority for assistance with accommodation. In September 2019, he sent his older child to a fee-paying Muslim nursery in Waltham Forest [2]. The family was evicted in March 2020 and Waltham Forest LBC provided temporary accommodation in the Harlow area, some 20 miles from their previous address, which made it harder for the parents to get to work in London and for the child to go to the nursery [3]. In early September 2022, the younger child entered the same nursery [5]. Mr Ghaoui argued that in offering them accommodation 20 miles from the school, Waltham Forest was “not considering their rights”, while Waltham Forest explained at some length that it was not under any legal duty to provide accommodation that allowed the children to attend a specific religious school: in short, it was not a housing “need” [6]. The point at issue was whether or not the local authority was, in fact, under any such obligation.

In the County Court, Recorder Deal KC said that the language used in the correspondence dismissing Mr Ghaoui’s request “could be described as censorious.” She could appreciate why he might regard it as dismissive of his entitlement to send his children to a school of his choosing, but it was not relevant to the questions of law in the appeal and there had not been any interference with his Convention rights under Article 9 ECHR [10-15]. Accordingly, she dismissed the appeal [16]. Continue reading