Webb v Wandsworth LBC (Court of Appeal, November 12, 2008, extempore judgment and only noted in Arden Chambers Eflash 328)
Ms Webb was the secure tenant of LB Wandsworth. Between 2005 and 2006 her son was involved in a number of serious criminal and anti-social acts in the local area. In response, Wandsworth issued possession proceedings relying on Grounds 1 and 2, Sch. 2 Housing Act 1985. Shortly thereafter, an ASBO was made against the son. The son subsequently left the family home, although he would regularly return to visit his mother.
The possession trial came on in October 2007. There had been no ASB for a year and the son had been living elsewhere for 8 months. The Judge made a postponed possession order, apparently taking into account the fact that the son had been charged (but acquitted) of three breaches of the ASBO.
Ms Webb appealed to the Court of Appeal and contended that the three acquittals were irrelevant considerations. The Court unanimously upheld her appeal and quashed the possession proceedings. It was wrong in principle to take those matters into account.
Sedley LJ has, apparently, gone further and in his judgment, has stated that it is not permissible to use a possession order as a means of trying to force a tenant to exercise control over a third party.
It is, as you might imagine, the comments of Sedley LJ that appear to be the most interesting. I defend a fair few ASB cases and one of the things which most frustrates me is seeing my clients being demonised for the actions of their children/(drunken) partners. At a personal level, I hope the transcript of this judgment is as promising as the Eflash suggests it will be.