29/06/2009

RSLs support L&Q in Weaver appeal

According to Inside Housing, not only is L&Q to seek permission to appeal the Court of Appeal decision to the Lords/Supreme Court (and no surprise there) but the G15 group of the largest RSLs in London are potentially backing them, including funding. To quote Inside Housing:

Steve Howlett, chief executive of Peabody Trust and chair of the G15, said: ‘The G15 will consider how we can support L&Q if it chooses to appeal.’

When asked if this meant contributing to a possible ‘appeal fund’, Mr Howlett replied: ‘Yes – that is something that has previously been discussed.’

Given the ludicrous position that the LSC adopted on funding the Court of Appeal case for Ms Weaver, one would hope that this bloc of RSLs would make it abundantly clear that this is a ‘broader public relevance’ case par excellence and funding will follow.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

7 Comments

  1. S

    To be fair to the LSC (never thought I would hear myself say those words!) it is my understanding that they are only able to grant funding to cases where the result directly affects the client.

    Ms Weaver was not really an interested party to the appeal as she lost her JR and declined to cross appeal.

    I’d be interested to find out if the Lords are willing to hear Weaver. They probably have to – what with it being such an important point of principle- but in a recent immigration case, that was also wholly academic the claimants having been granted leave to remain in the UK, they all expressed their displeasure at having to decide a point that was purely academic.

    Reply
    • NL

      The result does directly affect the client, in common with all L&Q tenants, although granted her specifc case is going nowhere. The LSC can fund cases where wider public interest is claimed (has potential to produce real benefits for individuals other than the client). This would look like a paradigm case.

      I grant you Weaver might have had trouble appealing if the Court of Appeal had gone the other way, but it is L&Q’s appeal, so I’m not sure it can be classed as academic.

      Reply
      • J

        Surely the answer to this point is for the Lords to grant permission, but on condition that L&Q pay the costs of both parties to the appeal? That may be why the G15 are being asked to find the cash.

        Reply
      • S

        But all academic cases affect a wide range of people; a change in the law has the potential to indirectly affect everyone.

        My understanding of the way the LSC worked was that the box marked “of general public importance” (or whatever it is these days) had to be coupled with an actual case that directly affected an individual.

        Also just because L & Q lost doesn’t turn this into a non-academic argument. At the end of it the House are not determining a claim in favour of one party or the other; that has already been done by the Divisional Court. That should be game over.

        All they are being asked to do is resolve a point of principle. It would be grossly unfair on L & Q not to permit them to appeal, but then it was they who wanted to go to the Court of Appeal in the first place.

        Reply
        • NL

          Not all academic cases, surely. Plenty of points of law with little practical effect after all. And in this case, the effects wouldn’t be indirect, either for L&Q or for their tenants. And, arguably, Weaver might not have won her claim, but she does have something to lose in the appeal, which is the ability to have that claim heard in the first place, if you see what I mean.

          On L&Q funding the other side, the LSC would only fund the Court of Appeal if there was no costs risk in losing, which is why the CoA made that interesting variant on a protected costs order. I suppose there could be a variant on that.

  2. Michael

    I like this debate – like I love kalaedoskopes (spelling 4/10?) but don’t understand it.

    Any tabloidites on the editorial team like to translate?

    The most important question (for a struggler like me) is why would RSLs not want to be JR-able? What’s the problem, they are the original ‘house the poor’ charities aren’t they? What do you suspect they’re trying to hide?

    What was ‘ludicrous’ about the LSC’s decision not to risk? Public funds are for ‘worthy’ cases. Does the team at NL think this was without doubt a worthy case?

    Lots of us lesser academics browse I’m sure. Let us in to this particularly tricky one if you can.

    Reply
    • NL

      Michael, good question on RSLs. Their answer seems to be that they fear that if they are classed as public bodies in their housing functions, they won’t be able to get loans as private enterprises. They are even suggesting their debt would end up as public debt. Frankly I can’t see this and suspect political scare tactics. The HRA was extended by Parliament to private care homes where the occupants have been placed by councils under their care duty and nobody is suggesting that this make the care homes any less ‘private’ for the purposes of a bank loan. What do RSLs fear from JR? Well, having to make decisions according to their own policies is quite a big step, and having rational policies in the first place is a bit of a stumbling block for others, who are more used to making it up as they go along. I don’t think they are trying to hide anything much, except perhaps those problems. But, as I’m sure you know, ALMOs have some of the same problems, as do some LAs.

      ‘Worthy’ is not an LSC funding category. If it doesn’t fit a funding category, it doesn’t get funded, no matter how worthy.

      In this case, in the strange conditions in which L&Q appealed, was it a ‘worthy’ case? Yes. I refer the honourable gentleman to his earlier question about why RSLs would not want to be JR-able.

      The issue is, however, whther it a case that would fit within the LSC’s funding criteria, not whether it is ‘worthy’. I think it does fit those criteria. If you want an explanation of the funding criteria, please approach the LSC, as it has taken me about 2 years to get my head round them and I haven’t the time, server space or pixels sufficient to explain.

      Reply

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