Government & Legislation in the New Year
Today (15 January 2007) the Government has issued a consultation draft of a new statutory Code of Guidance on Allocation of Social Housing. Responses are sought by 10 April 2007. For a copy of the document click here
The Government's proposed reforms of the legal aid scheme were the subject of an urgent debate in the House of Commons on 11 January 2007. For the Hansard report of the debate (including the response of the Minister [Vera Baird MP]), click here
On 9 January 2007 the Government laid a Parliamentary order - The Local Authorities (Contracting out of Anti-social Behaviour Order Functions) (England) Order 2006 - designed to give Tenant Management Organisations powers to apply for ASBOs against tenants and others in their areas. For a copy of the order click here. For the related press release click here
On 5 January 2007 the Housing Corporation published Promoting Respect - Tackling Nuisance Behaviour making clear its expectation that housing associations will use their available powers to address anti-social behaviour. For a copy of the paper click here
Last Week's Cases
Sheffield CC v Fletcher  EWHC (Ch), 12 January 2007. The defendant (a secure tenant) failed to attend the hearing of the claimant council's claims for possession and an ASBO arising from her anti-social behaviour towards her neighbours. An outright possession order was made and an ASBO granted containing an exclusion area. Her application to set aside those orders (CPR 39.3) was dismissed on the grounds that she had no prospects of achieving a different result at retrial. A High Court judge dismissed her appeal. He held that the High Court had the same power as a county court to postpone the possession date or stay or suspend execution of the order but those powers would not be exercised because the tenant had breached the ASBO and there was no evidence suggesting any likely future change in her conduct.
Sheffield CC v Shaw  All ER (D) 35 (Jan), 12 January 2007. The defendant (a secure tenant) had been guilty of considerable harassment of a neighbour's daughter. That activity had been the subject of criminal convictions and breach of an interim ASBO. The council sought an outright possession order and a final ASBO excluding the defendant from the city. The judge made a suspended order and a limited ASBO. The Court of Appeal dismissed the council's appeal. The judge had been entitled to rely on a probation officer's assessment that the tenant had been capable of reform and the victim had moved away from the area. No error has been made in suspending the order.
Trustees of Morden College v Mayrick  EWCA Civ 4, 12 January 2007. Following a right to buy purchase by a sitting tenant, a dispute arose as to the ownership of certain land connected to the property. That action was compromised. The former tenant thereafter declined to give effect to the bargain on the basis that he, and not the claimants, were the owners of particular land included in the agreement. The claimants were granted summary judgment on a claim to enforce the bargain. The defendant's appeals were dismissed. The Court of Appeal held that any dispute about ownership of the land could and should have been raised by him before the compromise was made. For the transcript, click here
28 February 2007 Homelessness and Allocations, a LAG training course. For details, click here
1 March 2007 Eligibility for Social Welfare Assistance, a free Garden Court Chambers seminar. For details, click here
15 April 2007 Private Law Possession Claims: Public Law Defences, a free Garden Court Chambers seminar. For details, click here
"Free" Advice from Specialist Housing Counsel
For the period 1 January 2007 to 30 March 2007, solicitors firms or advice agencies which have LSC Contracts (or are LSC Quality Mark holders) will be able to seek and obtain written advice from counsel on Housing cases without having to first call the Garden Court Chambers Call Counsel advice line.
This applies to NON-URGENT cases only for which the client does not already have a public funding certificate. (If the casepapers are URGENT - i.e. need dealing with sooner than 21 days - you must still ring the Call Counsel phone line first on 020 7993 7666).
Requests for advice should be sent by letter addressed to "The Housing Clerks" at Garden Court Chambers. (It is not necessary to telephone the clerks to ascertain the availability of counsel).
The letter should:
(1) be headed "Specialist Support Service";
(2) give a Legal Services Commission Contract number;
(3) briefly describe both the problem and the question(s) to be answered; and
(4) enclose any relevant documents.