Pinnock: the view from the local Judiciary

By way of a brief re-cap, and as you all know only too well by now - in Manchester CC - Pinnock, it was established that the County Court could review whether a public authority decision to seek possession of a home on an otherwise mandatory ground was proportionate in light of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In Pinnock, the Supreme Court made it clear that the issue of proportionality was one for the tenant to raise and there was no requirement on the public authority to give positive arguments on proportionality in its possession claim (although it might be helpful in some cases).

At a recent Housing Court User Group meeting at Leeds County Court meeting, the District Judge presiding over the meeting said that in his court, where a tenant is not legally represented, he would expect a public authority (Council or Housing Association) to mention Pinnock in its arguments. If the public authority is represented by a Solicitor or a Barrister, the Judge said he would absolutely expect Pinnock to be mentioned even if just to briefly explain why the Pinnock principles do not apply.

County Court Judges are obviously familiar with un-represented tenants being unaware of their full legal rights and are therefore looking to the public authority to at address the Court to the issues in Pinnock rather than leaving it for the Defendant to raise, taking matters on a step from the Supreme Court expectations in Pinnock.

Be aware public authorities - be prepared to raise positive arguments on proportionality in possession proceedings at the first hearing, to demonstrate to the Court that the point has been considered, and avoid the possibility of adjournment, or the risk of an appeal.

Should you have any queries, please feel free to contact the Emsleys Housing Law Team.

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