Legal Action – Guest Post by Jan Luba and Nic Madge

We have had a request from Jan Luba QC and HHJ Madge who, as I’m sure you all know, edit the ‘recent developments in housing law’ updates in Legal Action each month. They are looking for feedback on the updates, so we are happy to help with a guest post…


This year will mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of the first of our Recent Developments in Housing Law articles in Legal Action.

We know that many housing practitioners read Recent Developments and we are extremely grateful to those who write to us with notes, transcripts etc, but apart from one evaluation exercise a few years ago, and chats with friends, we get little feedback.

We would like to know how Recent Developments could be improved. For example:

1. Is it too long, too short or about right? Should we be more selective about what we include? Do you give up reading it before you get to the end? Should there be an upper limit to the number of pages?

2. Is the balance between “Politics and Legislation” and the case summaries about right, or are we devoting too much space to one or the other?

3. Are there areas of housing law which we are wrongly ignoring, or which we could omit?

4. We have been including case summaries of decisions that cannot be cited as formal precedents (applications for permission to appeal, refusals of permission to claim judicial review, decisions of county court district judges, etc). We have done so because we believe they help indicate current practice. Should we exclude them or continue to include them?

5. We both make back issues of Recent Developments available on our personal web sites (www.nicmadge.co.uk and at Garden Court resources) a month or so after Legal Action is published, but we both feel that it would be helpful if Legal Action were able to provide an electronic housing law package. Do you agree? Would you (or your employer) be prepared to pay a reasonable sum for such a service?

It would be really helpful to hear from you, either by comments here on Nearly Legal or in personal email to us c/o nic@nicmadge.co.uk (even if it is only to say, “it is about right as it is”.)

Nic Madge and Jan Luba

[From NL -I will also be happy to pass on any emails sent to the usual address (contact at nearlylegal.co.uk). The monthly housing law updates are important for anyone involved in housing law, so please do pass on your views in the comments here or by email.]

About Giles Peaker

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, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Housing law - All, Various (non-housing) and tagged , , .

20 Comments

  1. I think it is about right. The publishing of unreported cases is vital. In relation to unlawful eviction, for example, it is the only guide as to damages that exists.

  2. I agree that the content does not need to be changed and would echo what David has said aobut the importance of covering unreported cases. In addition, I’d continue to report permission decisions. Whilst not usually capable of citation, it’s very useful to know what points others are looking to develop. LAG isn’t the WLR or the MLR. It can – and should – take a more informal approach.

    I’m doubtful about the scope for levying a charge for a housing law package. I suspect most people would regard such a charge as provided for in the cost of LAG itself.

  3. I think the content is about right. However I would appreciate access to a page where I could follow the links which support many of the news items.

    I often find it difficult to copy type the links into my web browser, particularly as they are printed in very small font. As I am short sighted and read small print better without my glasses now, I am continually having to take them on and off!

    This would be the main advantage for me of an online version. I would however expect this to be included in the cover price!

  4. I’m with everybody else so far on the content, although I’ll confess to skim reading the politics and legislation section with an eye to usefulness.

    The County Court, unreported and permissions cases are vital, I think – and I look on the reporting of County Court disrepair/unlawful eviction/unusual possession cases with a jealous eye. David is right on the unlawful eviction damages and the same is true of disrepair quantum – there is no other source. The permission hearings are useful for anyone looking at potential challenges/appeals.

    I doubt that anyone would be surprised if I said that I think an online version would be a good idea. The re-purposing of the content to fully searchable html ought to be pretty straightforward. But I suspect than an additional fee for an online version would be less than popular, though.

  5. Congratulations and many thanks to Jan Luba and Nic Madge for maintaing the excellent ‘recent developments in housing law’ for 25 years.

    My responses to your numbered points are;-

    1. It is not too long. I think it could be longer without upper limit especially if you move to on line publishing. I don’t see any need to be selective about cases reported other than their relevance and the time available to those compiling the updates.

    2. I don’t tend to read all the polictics and legislation stuff. I concentrate on the case reports.

    3. I can’t think of any areas you are missing or ignoring.

    4. Please keep the case summaries. It is really useful to see current practice.

    5. I am not keen on the idea of a paid for Legal Action Housing Law. I think that information like this should be provided for free on line. Where you already have an excellent free resource like Nearly Legal I can’t see much of a market for a paid for service. Instead I would like to see the recent developments published as a free blog.

    • William, on the ‘free’ point, I don’t think you can validly use NL as a stick. For LAG to do something of the same sort involves not insignificant overheads, unless you expect Jan and Nic to adminster a blog for free on top of what they already do, and needs to be funded to ensure sustainability. Whether these overheads are part of the existing editorial/publishing overheads or not is perhaps another matter.

      Unless something is a by-product of work people are doing anyway, free is just not a sustainable model in the long-term. NL involves a group of people who, quite remarkably, chose to do this for free. As you know from your own occasional blogging, it takes a lot of time and effort which those people are effectively donating. It entirely depends on the interest and availability of those people. NL could vanish like something in a Tommy Cooper magic trick – I have no intention of it doing so, but it could – without the goodwill and effort of those involved. Something like the Recent Developments is too important to the sector to have to rely on such a shaky basis.

  6. I join in the anniversary congrats and backslapping. Thanks to you both. The politics and Leg opener is really useful to catch up on anything I’ve missed; the best thing you did for us housing nerds was persuade LAG to take it monthly rather than quarterly. I fear my employer wouldn’t be prepared to pay any sum for an electronic service – higher education is bankrupt!

  7. I echo the remarks about the usefulness of county court decisions. Even if one is fairly active in court and/or litigation there is still a great deal going on “out there” that one doesn’t come into contact with. Its really useful to know what’s going on.

    Of course the quantum decisions (eg for general damages for disrepair) aren’t frequent or systematic enough to use in the way our personal injury cousins do with Kemp & Kemp (don’t I wish it were otherwise) but they do also provide a useful benchmark which one can use in providing advice.

    The fact that you are the obvious people to just send stuff to also means you get to see things that we wouldn’t and can publish them to a wider world.

    A lot of first instance LVT (and RPT and RAC I guess) material goes unremarked but I hesitate to suggest that – I suspect you have enough on your plate producing what you do.

    The length seems about right. I take some interest in the politics, but I find keeping up with it and the law as it is developing very difficult. I’m not sure the monthly update helps me do that particularly well, but I’m not sure that it could do any better without becoming something quite different. To some extent that’s what Legal Action is for.

    As for payment: I’m afraid I foot all my own bills for such things and tend to the very stingy side of things. My view is I should be a producer rather than consumer of legal digests anyway, which is why I blog with NL.

  8. I agree that it is not reasonable to expect LAG to finance an online version for free. However could there not be just a page with a list of all the links, just the numbered list as it appears at the end of the LAG article but with the links clickable?

    This would make life a lot easier for those of us who want to follow the links and read the source material. However people would have to have bought the magazine first to know the context of the links.

    The Recent Developments in Housing Law series is a great resource, much appreciated by all in housing law, and here’s hoping it will go on for at least another 25 years!

  9. Whilst all reports on cases are useful. I have found that disrepair damages reports can contain little detail. I would find it helpful if the reports on disrepair damages cases could have more, with essential information as to the exact nature of the disrepair, how much of the accommodation it affected and how long it continued for.

    • Mark, I’d second, third and indeed fourth that. But that is really something for the people who send in case notes to fill in, I suppose.

  10. I endorse what all have said about this being a valuable resource. I generally find all the content of interest. I’d subscribe to an electronic version if the cost was reasonable, but probably as an alternative to the magazine rather than an additional subscription. This would enable more detail to be provided by those contributing the reports, and would assist in cataloguing and cross referencing. It would save me having to file the articles in a lever arch each month (I think I’ve got them going back to 1987 which kind of dates me)

  11. I find the LAG updates extremely helpful. Housing is a fast developing area of law and one with which you need to keep up.

    In terms of what I mostly note, disrepair and unlawful eviction cases are particularly useful in terms of damages and the approach taken.

    I dont think there’s a problem with the volume of information, it’s about right but if it were longer I’d still read it.

    I tend to read the cases more detail than the policy issues (which I tend to scan), but having said that it is vital to know about the policy updates to keep in the loop about where things are going.

    I doubt that my firm would be able to afford to pay more for subscriptions, but they may be persuaded depending on the final proposal for what it is that is ‘extra’ to the current LAG subscription.

    Thank you to Jan Luba and Nic Madge who do a fantastic job with the current model of LAG. Long may it continue.

  12. The housing law update is the reason why we have continued to subscirbe to LAG for many years. The most useful part for me is not the case law round up as we get that on a daily basis from lawtel or westlaw – as there is little analysis of the cases just a summary it doesn’t add much – the really useful thing is the summary of legislation and consultations – harder to find those in one place – the unreported cases are also very useful. It does overlap however with Garden Court’s own housing newsletter which is free – although LAG is more detailed.

    An electronic version – probably for the whole magazine – must be the way forward soon though surely.

  13. I found this site to be really helpful when applying the correct legislation, and I read all even it doesn’t concren me that day!

    I like everyone else would have difficulty getting any money out of finance for this site.

    25 years! Way to go!

    • Joanna, I think you have confused two different things, this site – Nearly Legal – and the ‘Recent Developments in Housing Law’ in Legal Action magazine, which is what this guest post is about. The confusion is flattering to us, but a) we have only been in existence since 2006, and b) the site isn’t written by Jan Luba QC and HHJ Madge.

  14. I find the update invaluable. They reinforce what I have already read from online sources. Commentary on the reported cases would be really useful because occasionally a reported decision seems cranky to me and I never know if its me not understanding or if the judge really was away with the fairies.

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