Worthingtons Solicitors

St Mary’s Primary School in Fivemiletown Saved from Closure

Worthingtons were delighted to have acted on behalf of the applicant in a recent judicial review concerning the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools’ (CCMS) proposal to close St Mary’s Primary School in Fivemiletown.

Leave (permission) for judicial review was granted by Mr Justice Humphreys on 17 November 2023, following a contested High Court hearing in October 2023, in order to challenge a decision by the CCMS’ Education Provision Committee (made 24 August 2023), by which it unanimously agreed that the closure proposal should not be withdrawn. The applicant in the case sought inter alia an order setting aside that decision, and an order compelling the CCMS to retake the decision, on the principal grounds that:

  • the CCMS Education Provision Committee had failed to take into account the role of a member of their committee who previously participated in, and supported, the CCMS decision-making process which led to the proposal to close the school;
  • that it had also, failed to have regard to materials provided by the Chair of the school’s Board of Governors to the committee; and
  • no hearing was afforded to parties affected by the decision contrary both to common law procedural fairness, the expectation generated by correspondence from the Chair of the CCMS, to the school, and contrary to CCMS’ duties under article 142(3) of the Education Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 to consult with: (i) the principal of the school; (ii) the Board of Governors; or (iii) the trustee(s) of the school, before determining whether or not to withdraw the proposal to close the school.

Following the grant of leave, the CCMS opted in December 2023 to withdraw in its entirety its proposal to close St Mary’s Primary School in Fivemiletown. The CCMS has since agreed to pay the applicant’s legal costs in connection with the judicial review proceedings, and the Court has disposed of the matter accordingly.

A full copy of Mr Justice Humphreys’ judgment on the application for leave to apply for judicial review can be accessed, here: https://www.judiciaryni.uk/judicial-decisions/2023-nikb-112

If your / your child’s school is proposed for closure and you wish to consider taking legal action to challenge such a proposal or decision, it is best to always seek legal advice promptly and whilst the proposal is in its infancy/early stages. Legal aid funding can be applied for in appropriate cases. Please contact our specialist judicial review solicitor Brian Moss, who has acted on behalf of applicants in a number of such cases.

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