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O(L)ivers Army

By J

Defence Estates v L and another, High Court (Administrative Court, Collins J, 5.5.09) [2009] All ER (D) 20 (May) is – potentially – quite an important case on the ongoing Qazi/Kay/Doherty/Connors/McCann/Cosic debate about the role of Article 8 in possession proceedings.

The only report of the judgement is from the All ER note, which isn’t a particularly well written document. Anyone involved in the case (Stephen Cottle – I’m looking at you) who wants to correct / add to what I’ve written here is more than welcome to contact the NL team.

L was married to an army officer. In 1999 L’s husband resigned from the army and, as an act of compassion, the army arranged for temporary accommodation for L, her two daughters and grandson (I’m unsure as to whether or not L was accommodated by the army prior to 1999).

In due course, Defence Estates (a company responsible for managing the MoD housing stock) informed L that it intended to seek possession. L appears to have approached the relevant local authority, made a Part 7 Housing Act 1996 application, but declined the property which was subsequently offered by the LA. A notice to quit was served and possession proceedings were issued. A possession order was (apparently) made, but the court refused to issue a warrant.

A further NTQ was served in November 2005. L argued that any possession order would violate her rights under Art 8. The claim was transfered into the Administrative Court where it was heard by Collins J (the lead Judge of the Administrative Court).

Mr Justice Collins granted a possession order. There was no obligation on the claimant to make enquiries as to the personal circumstances of L. It was clear that L was not entitled to remain in occupation forever. The claimant was obliged to assist in finding alternative accommodation and the LA had to carry out a lawful process under Part 7, Housing Act 1996. The needs of the MoD outweighed any rights that L might have under Art 8.

Apparently, his Lordship considered Qazi, Doherty and Doran. His reasoning will be worth looking at once it becomes available. Once that happens, we’ll do a more detailed post.

[Edit – 12.5.09 – the Garden Court Bulletin has a short, but slightly different, case report, availabe here]

J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


  1. NL

    I can’t make head nor tail of the All ER report. The dates are clearly wrong, with some confusion between 1989 and 1999 that stands in the way of making sense of the history. As far as I can see, no application to the LA under Part VII took place, but the Defence Estates noted that an order for possession would be necessary before the LA would owe a Part VII duty.

    Definitely need a full judgment, particularly given the apparent statement that the Claimant ‘had to assist in finding suitable alternative accommodation’.


    • J

      I agree – the All ER (D) note is very confusing. It also suggests that Defence Estates were merely the agent, yet they’ve issued the proceedings in their own name.


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