A transcript, a transcript – my kingdom for a transcript

As you’ll all know, there has – for some time now – been rumblings about judicial review claims where RSLs/local authorities have decided to replace resident wardens (in sheltered housing schemes) with non-resident wardens. It appears that, on Monday (7.12.09), the High Court handed down judgment in R (Garbet) v Circle 33 Housing CO/891/2009, dealing with just such a matter.

The only reports that I can find of the case are in Inside Housing (the link isn’t working – see story dated Dec 10, 2009 entitled “Eastborne Homes acted unlawfully in warden case”) and You and Yours (Radio 4, here). Neither Bailii nor Lawtel return any information about the case, although Casetrack has confirmed that judgment was listed for Monday and gave me the reference for the case. If anyone has a transcript then we’d love to see a copy.

Radio 4 are reporting it as a huge story in the field of social housing, but, if the Inside Housing report is accurate, the it looks like Garbet is actually a bit of a damp squib. It appears that Mumby LJ held:

(a) that Circle 33 acted unlawfully in ending the resident warden service because the tenancy agreement between Circle 33 and Ms Garbet provided for consultation to take place prior to any such decision being taken;

(b) that it was, however, inappropriate to consider whether or not there was a public law issue here at all (presumably on the basis that JR is a remedy of last resort and, given (a), Ms Garbet has a private law remedy);

(c) that, even if this were a public law matter, he would refuse to grant any relief.

As ever, if readers have any more information about the case, please do share it with us! Otherwise, we’ll just have to wait for a transcript.

With thanks to a reader (you know who you are) for bringing this to our attention.

About J

J is a barrister in London. He loves service charges and all things leasehold law related. He also likes beating rogue landlords and mortgage companies.
Posted in Housing law - All and tagged .

8 Comments

  1. Transcript where art thou?

    I too cant find it anywhere but would make one simple comment with regard to point (b) above.

    A previous case Supportways vs Hampshire County Council may provide a different reason. The HC judgment ordered a public law remedy in a decree of specific performance – or to the council to go back and do the exercise again. That order (the remedy not the decision)was appealled and held by CoA that the HC judgment didnt have the power to award a public law remedy.

    The original HC judgment did state that private law remedy – ie damages – was impossible to ascertain thus leaving the crazy situation where a council has acted unlawfully yet the law could not provide any remedy.

    Im sure Mumby LJ had this case in mind when ‘disallowing’ the public law remedy (that was presumably sought) of making the landlord reinstate the resident warden.

  2. Supportways was a bit of an odd case – a private law claim (breach of contract) where they sought a public law remedy (the quashing order). I remember reading the High Court judgment in the CCLR and just thinking “nooooo… this cannot be right.” I was glad to see the CA correct matters. It may be that someone took a similar point here but, without the transcript…

  3. I am afraid that you are wrong in the assumption that it is a damp squib. This is not a one off case. Housing providers up and down the country have persistently made similar changes to Warden cover without consulting the residents. Yet, they are obliged to do so vide the HA 1985 and Housing Corporation Circular 05/07, which makes consultations mandatory.

    Unless I read the transcript differently I don’t believe that Justice Mumby forbade it going to HRA, he just pointed out that it should not be necessary because it was unlikely that the outcome would be any different.

    The outcome is very important from another aspect too. I don’t know if it is just the United Kingdom, but there seems to be an assumption by housing providers that they own and enforce contracts with residents. This is a lesson for them, long overdue

    sincerely

    Vernon J Yarker
    Chairman
    The Sheltered Housing UK Association
    http://www.shelteredhousinguk.com

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