Court quashes intentionally homeless decision

Friday 11 September 2015

In a decision handed down this week, HHJ Wulwick has confirmed that both the denigration of personality and adultery are capable of being classified as domestic violence and has accepted the force of expert opinion about causation of current mental health problems.

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HHJ Wulwick, sitting at Central London County Court, has added ‘flesh to the bones’ of the Yemshaw definition of domestic violence.

The appellant was found to be intentionally homeless as a result of leaving her husband who consistently criticised her appearance and her ethnicity, and who committed adultery in the marital bed. The Council decided that it was a case of relationship breakdown rather than domestic abuse, and relied heavily on the fact that the appellant kept in contact with her husband and considered reconciliation.

HHJ Wulwick found that it did not follow that abuse had not occurred and accepted that victims of abuse will all too often return to the perpetrator. The Judge considered that the denigration of the appellant’s personality and the committal of adultery were capable of fulfilling the wider definition of domestic violence as formulated in the case of Yemshaw v LB Hounslow ([2011] UKSC 3).

The Judge also found that the council was wrong to reject the evidence of professionals who had previously treated the appellant. The council considered the evidence to be of little assistance as the professionals were not treating the appellant at the time of her departure. The Judge considered that this fact in no way undermined the evidence and professionals will often look to the past for factors which influence a person’s current mental state.

Justine Compton was instructed by John Gorringe at TV Edwards. Justine is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Housing Team.

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