The DCLG have issued a consultation paper on ‘dispute resolution’ under the (to be) amended Mobile Homes Act 1983 (which will also have effect for Travellers) The consultation paper can be downloaded from us [PDF]. How to respond is at the back of the document, but responses are required by 9 June 2009 (!)
Amongst the suggestions is the frankly bizarre suggestion that “fact finding role” in possession proceedings be dealt with by Residential Property Tribunals (RPTs) while the “legal role” will be dealt with by the County Court. The DCLG suggests this as a means of addressing residents’ concerns that landlords bring proceedings as a threat or bullying tactic
we have heard from residents that site owners sometimes use termination proceedings as a bullying tactic and as a means of securing their own way. If that is so, we believe this is an abuse of the court’s system and that no cases should come before a court unless the facts relating to it have been established and verified. The Government, therefore, proposes to introduce a filter mechanism in respect of termination cases.
On a charitable view, it might just be that this hasn’t really been thought through. For example, the division would see no legal aid available to residents for the ‘fact finding’ tribunal. And how on earth does one manage a clear cut divide between factual and legal issues in a possession case, without the facts effectively being re-heard in legal argument, so further delay, duplication of effort and expense.
The Travellers Advice Team at Community Legal Partnership have put in what might be described as a robust response, downloadable here [.doc]. Others are welcome to respond – but quickly, 9 June…
Given that this is coming from the DCLG, there also the worrying prospect that this represents broader thinking on housing disputes and the tribunalisation of possession or disrepair proceedings.