Members’ password

March 20th, 2014

HLPA members should be aware that the password for the members area of the site, which contains the speakers’ papers, precedents and more,  will be changing on 31 March 2014. Members who have signed up for 2014 will receive the new password shortly.  A reminder and form for joining for 2014 is here.

The presentation for the Homelessness update of 12 March 2014 is now available on the members section of the site. It can be found here (login required).

Demonstration against Legal Aid proposals

May 30th, 2013

Save UK Justice poster

Guide to Housing Legal Aid after LASPO

May 11th, 2013

Sara Stephens and the legal aid working group have prepared a guide for HLPA members on legal aid for housing matters from 1 April 2013, covering scope, guidance and procedure.

The Guide can be found on the new ‘guides’ page in the members area.

Members’ area password

April 9th, 2013

The password for HLPA members to access the members area of the website will be changing on 20 April 2013.

The new password will be emailed to all 2013 members very shortly. Please ensure that the HLPA administrator has email addresses for all people in your organisation included in your membership.

Disrepair – Legal Aid Surveyors’ fees

September 22nd, 2012

After a long and sustained effort by HLPA, Shelter, ASA and LAPG, the MoJ has now concluded its review into appropriate hourly rates to pay to surveyors in disrepair cases. As you know, the current rate is £50 per hour.

A review of available data, including data supplied by HLPA, showed that the average hourly rate in London is £125 per hour and out of London is £95 per hour. As all experts’ rates (alongside solicitor and counsel’s rates) were to be codified and reduced by 10%, the new guideline hourly rates for surveyors in housing disrepair cases are:

Outside London – up to £85 per hour

In London – up to £115 per hour

The MoJ have advised that it is unlikely that these rates will be codified in a statutory order before April 2013. Therefore, we will need to make applications for prior authority to instruct surveyor’s at these rates.

The MoJ/LSC are going to issue guidance to caseworkers at the LSC so that they are aware of these new guideline rates. They aim to issue this guidance by 1st October 2012.

The MoJ/LSC are also going to advise us as to how best to make the applications for prior authority and whether this can be included as a standard paragraph in APP1s. Again, they should provide this advice by 1st October.

If you wish to instruct someone for more than these hourly rates you will need to justify this in an application for prior authority as before.

We will update members when the guidance or any further information becomes available.

Allocations Guidance

July 8th, 2012

The DCLG has published the new Allocations Code of Guidance for Local Authorities.

The Code of Guidance can be found here [pdf]

Member password

June 1st, 2012

The member password for the site has been updated. The new password was circulated to members signed up for 2012 by email on 21 May 2012.

If you have not received the email and are registered for 2012, please contact Chandra_Rao@shelter.org.uk

 

Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2012 Nominations

April 19th, 2012

The 2012 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year nominations are open.

In this difficult time for legal aid, what better than to celebrate the passion and commitment of those working in legal aid practice? Do you know someone or a practice whose work should be recognised in the LALYs? Then nominate them!

The nomination form is here and more details are here.

The closing date is 27 April 2012

Housing and LASPO

March 4th, 2012

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill enters report stage in the House of Lords from 5 March. Any further amendments to the bill in the Lords must happen at this stage. It is likely that the social welfare provisions, including housing, will be debated from Monday 5 March onwards.

There is one single housing related amendment tabled, although there are others addressing social welfare more broadly. The amendment is at 75-77 of the marshalled list of amendments. The proposed amendment was drafted by Shelter and supported by HLPA, as well as Citizens Advice, Justice for All, the Law Society, the Law Centres Federation, Young Legal Aid Lawyers, the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, the Housing Law Practitioners Association, the Bar Council, the Advice Services Alliance and the Salvation Army.

As drafted, LASPO would mean that benefits work would be out of scope even when involved in defending possession proceedings, thus making a successful resolution of many rent arrears or mortgage possession cases virtually impossible.

This amendment would ensure that, where the loss of the home is threatened due to nonpayment of the rent or mortgage, advice and casework can be provided to address an underlying benefits problem causing or contributing to the arrears.

The full proposed amendment and briefing can be downloaded here.

If you are signed up to the Justice for All “pair up with a peer” scheme please write to them now to ask them to support the HB (and other) amendments. If you’re not with the scheme please contact Lib Dem or cross bench peers to explain why this amendment is so important- you can find out a list of the peers and their parties via this link (select search options as party and group – then search for
lib dem or crossbenchers):

http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/

Please send the Shelter briefing document with any communication with peers.

Court desk limited opening times from April 2012

February 27th, 2012

As of April 2012, all Civil and Family Courts will be changing the opening times of the court desks. They will be open only between 11 am and 1 pm.

According to HMCTS:

Court users attending the public counter with routine work that does not require a face to face service provision will be directed to a “drop box” or to the secure court postbox. Work that is considered will fall into this category include:

  • -Making a payment
  • -Case specific enquiries
  • -General enquiries
  • -Lodging documents
  • -Issuing money claims or other civil applications
  • -Issuing divorce proceedings
  • -Issuing public or private law proceedings
  • -Issuing enforcement proceedings
  • -Collecting forms / orders

HMCTS further state that

These arrangements will not affect the courts’ ability to deal throughout the working day with any matters which should be dealt with immediately e.g. injunction applications. We would encourage you to continue to contact the court via e-mail or fax to alert us to any urgent matters so that we can then make the appropriate arrangements.

Urgent applications are defined as an application or document which needs to be issued or seen by a member of the judiciary within 24 hours

It is not clear yet what the arrangments for urgent matters will be. We understand that courts are considering this on an individual basis.

HLPA is concerned by this move, which seems likely to have a particular impact on vulnerable tenants seeking to make urgent applications in person, for stay of eviction or for an injunction in unlawful eviction cases. HLPA members are urged to respond to any local consultations (for the London Region see below) and to seek clarification on arrangments for urgent matters from Court User groups.

As a further detail, Willesden County Court is dealing with urgent matters on an appointment only basis, so we are told people should phone or email for an appointment time, assuming that there are any available.

There is a consultation form for Court users in the London region. The letter and form can be downloaded here [doc]. The consultation ends 2 March 2012, so an urgent reponse needed.

For the full news archive see here.

Latest Updates from Nearly Legal

Click through for the full post

  • Gonna get myself arrested

    Maunder Taylor v SHG-SH20 Ltd 3CL02066 is one of the more interesting (and potentially, important) county court cases I’ve come across recently (transcript not publicly available; I’ve got one and am trying to persuade the Landlord and Tenant Reports to publish it). For reasons that will become clear, it has wider significance for LVT/FTT cases and although only a county court judgment, it is by HHJ Walden-Smith who is herself a judge of the UT(LC); not binding authority, I accept, but persuasive and important.

    The case concerns the powers of the FTT/LVT under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. As you may know (and, if you don’t know, this excellent Read the full post

  • Spoiling the Broth

    Blake and others v LB Waltham Forest [2014] EWHC  1027 (Admin) is a judicial review challenge to the local authority’s decision to terminate a licence held by Christian Kitchen (the 3rd Claimant) to operate its soup kitchen out of the Mission Grove Car Park, Walthamstow, London, E17.

    The soup kitchen has been providing hot meals and refreshments to local homeless people on a nightly basis for the past 25 years and it has occupied its current site for the last 20 years. The Council issued its decision to terminate the kitchen’s licence on 17/4/13 as part of its urban regeneration programme. There were also concerns that the site had become … Read the full post

  • Disrepair: La luta continua!

    2013 was a difficult year for claimant disrepair. Changes in legal aid funding have made it all but impossible to pursue a disrepair claim under legal aid alone, as funding is only available for an order to carry out repairs to where there is serious risk to health or well being of the tenant or other occupiers, and not for further repairs or the damages claim (although full funding remains for a counterclaim to a possession claim, which can be brought after the possession order).

    For those carrying out disrepair claims under Conditional Fee Agreements, success fees ceased being recoverable from the Defendant, as did ATE premiums, but, despite … Read the full post

  • Disrepair: Damp and quantum

    Following on from this post on disrepair counterclaims and as a precursor to a substantial post on disrepair quantum to follow very soon(ish), this is a County Court Judgment on an assessment of quantum hearing on 28 March 2014 (there was a default judgment in October 2013).

    Clark v Affinity Sutton Homes Ltd. Barnet County Court 4 April 2014.

    Mr C was the assured tenant of ASH since 2004. The property was a one bedroom flat with an initial weekly rent of some £66.

    There were problems with damp at the property. The expert’s report of May 2013 found:

    [a] Leaking within the vicinity of the bathroom

    [b] Dampness internally

    Read the full post

  • Early Compliance

    Tummond, R (on the application of) v Reading County Court & Anor [2014] EWHC 1039 (Admin)

    This is a slightly surprising case involving a judicial review of refusal of permission to appeal.

    Facts
    T was an Assured Shorthold Tenant of a property. His tenancy began on 18 December 2012 and was for 6 months. He paid a deposit as is common. The deposit protection certificate stated that the tenancy began on 20 December and that the deposit was paid on 22 December. The report does not comment on this inconsistency so we can only assume the court considered the date discrepancies to be irrelevant. The deposit was actually protected on … Read the full post

  • Disrepair – counterclaims after possession order.

    Here is an interesting prospect* (and a big tug of forelock to Beatrice Prevatt at Garden Court for the initial suggestion).  Can a counterclaim for disrepair be brought after a possession order is made?

    Conventionally, we’ve thought that a counterclaim would have to be raised before a possession order, or the complex and fraught option of applying to set aside the possession order would have to be followed, even assuming there was actually any basis for such an application. But there appears to be a solid argument based on Court of Appeal precedent to suggest otherwise.

    Rahman v Sterling Credit Ltd [2001] 1 WLR 496 [Also on Bailii] … Read the full post