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Cock up, not conspiracy…

Allen v Southwark LBC [No.2] [2011] EWCA Civ 470

I haven’t been able to find a report on this case, save for a note in the Garden Court Housing Law Bulletin for 26 April 2011. If anyone has a transcript, we’d be very keen to see it.

This looks like the end for Mr Carlos Allen’s claim against LB Southwark for harassment. You may recall that, back in November 2008, Mr Allen won his appeal of Southwark’s strike out application in the Court of Appeal (our report here).

The substance of Mr Allen’s claim was that in repeatedly issuing possession claims against him, each of which was on the same ground and each of which was struck out for exactly the same deficiency, Southwark were harassing him for the purposes of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The Court of Appeal had held that Southwark’s behaviour was at least arguably capable of constituting harassment and re-instated the case.

From the Garden Court note, it appears that the first instance court found that Southwark had brought the possession claims in good faith, albeit ‘mistakenly or incompetently’. (Southwark had argued in the Court of Appeal that its behaviour might have been ‘careless, negligent, even vexatious’ but not harassment). The claim was dismissed.

It also appears that Mr Allen then applied to the Court of Appeal for permission, but was refused on the basis that on the facts there was no real prospect of showing that the Judge was wrong.

Again, if anyone has a transcript, we’d be very grateful.

[Update. I’ve seen a transcript. As we noted before, the issue with the possession claims was that Mr A’s tenancy agreement provided for him to pay his rent at the local housing office. Southwark then insisted that rent was paid at a bank or post office and refused to take money at the housing office. Mr A insisted on paying at the office. Arrears built up, Southwark issued a possession claim, then, as each claim failed, accepted a ‘one-off’ payment at the housing office. More arrears, another claim on two further relevant occasions.

The tenancy agreement was not amended or supplemented by Southwark. Southwark’s evidence was that it may have mishandled the situation, but it was a matter of repeated attempts to ‘regularise’ the position, in the last instance with the aid of Counsel. The attempts were in good faith and not therefore ‘a course of conduct which, on an objective basis, would be regarded by reasonable people as amounting to oppressive and unacceptable conduct and conduct of sufficient gravity to amount to an offence under the criminal alternative provisions of the Act’. HHJ Mitchell agreed and dismissed the claim

On appeal, conducted in person by Mr Allen, as was the trial below, Rix LJ found that Mr Allen was effectively just a re-arguing of the case on it’s facts and therefore disclosed no ground that would give a real prospect of success. Permission to appeal refused. ]

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.

2 Comments

  1. d. hardy

    hello,you kindly sent me a copy of the judgement by the court of appeal refusing leave to appeal the first instance decision. is it possible to obtain the transcript of the judgement at first instance? word wave did not transcribe the judgement. C allen would have to obtained the transcript fpr the leave to appeal application.

    Reply
    • NL

      We’ve not got it. If Mr Allen did obtain a copy, it hasn’t been more widely circulated, I’m afraid.

      Reply

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