04/02/2014

Homeless Counties

A brief note on what I think was a homelessness s.204 appeal, but have only a local newspaper report to go on. The issue was the status of the review officer, and specifically, whether St Albans District Council had, as it purported to do, contracted out its homeless reviews to Minos Perdios. Mr Perdios should need no introduction to regular readers, and we have visited the ‘contracting out reviews’ issue in Shacklady v Flintshire and most recently in Tachie, Terera and Il v Welwyn Hatfield BC [2013] EWHC 3972 (QB) [our report].

It appears that in this case, brought by Ms Hadnutt, St Albans DC was found to have failed to adequately amend its constitution, or make the necessary resolutions in council cabinet, to lawfully be able to contract out its statutory review duties under Housing Act 1996. While in Tachie, Welwyn BC managed to escape by retrospectively ratifying the contracting out decision, St Albans managed not to do that, either.

What I take to have been the Circuit Judge (confusing said to have been sitting in Bedford Magistrates Court, but really has to have been as a County Court CJ) apparently held that as a result, Mr Perdios had no authority to make homeless review decisions ‘on behalf of’ St Albans, and that every review decision made since Mr Perdios started, some 4 years ago, was accordingly unlawful.

Ms Hadnutt will presumably now have to have a fresh review decision made by a Council review officer.

Toby Vanhagen was counsel for Ms Hadnutt. We would be very happy to have more details of this case.

I must confess to living in St Albans. I’m now wondering whether I should encourage my firm to set up a branch and save my commute. After all, they have a lot of review decisions to reconsider…

 

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.

6 Comments

  1. Arfan

    I think we better given Arden chambers a call for a transcript. This sounds like a big issue indeed. I’m assuming a appeal is inevitable on LA side.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Transcript? It is a County Court s.204 appeal. No transcripts unless paid for! The issue has been known for a while – see the post on Tachie that I linked to, for example. No word on an appeal yet.

    • Lucy Fox

      Both the Tachie Case and this case were run by our firm in Watford. The appeal referred to above was in fact one of three which were heard together on the 21st Janaury 2014. We have a similar appeal running against another borough in Hertfordshire. There are four appeals linked to this one, the first of which is due to take place on the 18th February 2014. The local newspaper have asked to attend that one.
      The next appeal is similar to Tachie as the council have sought to retropsectively pass a resolution of cabinet.

      The Tachie case is currently being appealed to the Court of Appeal. However, in the St Albans Case permission to appeal was not sought at the County Court hearing. We have not yet been informed that the council are seeking to appeal but we will update as and when we hear. (The deadline is next week) At the moment St Albans have been notifying our client’s that they intend to do the re-review in house.

    • Giles Peaker

      Thanks Lucy, that is helpful. Do keep us updated!

  2. NeilH

    No great mystery about the location.
    Bedford Magistrates’ Court sits at Shire Hall, Bedford (the previous home of Bedford Crown Court and before that Bedford Assizes, as in James Hanratty). Bedford County Court relocated a while back to premises tacked on to the back of the Magistrates’ Court.
    The County Court will have had to “borrow” one of the Magistrates’ courtrooms next door to accommodate a CJ.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Thanks, that is what I had assumed. Had the same thing happen at Bromley.

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