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English legal system

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Introduction

At the Royal Courts of Justice on the 21 November 2002 was the case of Stonebridge Housing Action Trust v Gabbindon & anr. It was heard in the Chancery Division of the High Court by Mr Justice Lloyd. It was an appeal against an order to suspend an existing warrant for possession in Willesden County Court by District Judge Sitch. Summary of facts The case involved a tenant of the Stonebridge Housing Action Trust (SHAT went into arrears in 1997, which led to a suspension order being given under the condition that she would make the repayments needed in weekly instalments. Following this, there had been five proven incidents with one further alleged against the respondents.1 A warrant for possession was issued in October 2001 because of the continued arrears, the tenant now being in the position of a tolerated trespasser. This led to the hearing by Judge Sitch in February 2002 in which the respondents' application to remain on the property was successful on the condition that there were to be no more incidents of misconduct on Gabbindon's part and that rent owed be repaid in instalments. Appellant's argument It was submitted by the appellants that the respondents should not have been granted further permission to remain in the property. She was already a tolerated trespasser in breach of a suspension order and therefore at mercy (reference made to Rent Act 1977). The five drugs related matters could not have been correctly taken into account by the previous judge in the opinion of the appellants because if he had done so, he would have seen that these factors alone would have been sufficient grounds for possession. Instead, they claimed he allowed the fact that Gabbindon had two small children (one merely a matter of months old) to cause him to suspend the possession order. This they submitted made him at fault on a point of law. ...read more.

Middle

Though the appellants had submitted he had not fully considered the three necessary elements, Justice Lloyd disagreed and stated that he had done this well enough. The appellants also submitted that the age of the youngest child should not have been a decisive factor but again the judge disagreed stating that Article 8 makes this important and therefore not an irrelevant factor. As Judge Sitch had not included any statements regarding s.17 of the Children Act in his judgement, there was no evidence of him having misdirected himself. The appellants had also submitted that on an estate such as the Stonebridge, the ability of SHAT to manage properties if no order is made would be subverted. Justice Lloyd then pointed out that the trial judge had categorically stated that this case should not be used as any form of precedent if a similar case arose. The trial judge was held to have only referred to relevant factors in his judgement, thus striking the balance of reasonableness and therefore the judge stated he had no other option but to dismiss the appeal and ordered the costs to be paid by the appellants. Ratio Decidendi It was clear that the judge had no choice but to come to this decision because as had already been pointed out, he could only interfere with the previous judgement if a legal principle had been misapplied. There was no particular case quoted by the judge as his basis for making the decision but according to what was laid out in the Rent Acts and the Housing Act 1985, there had been no misapplication of the law as so the appeal had to be dismissed. Court - layout and procedures The Royal Courts of Justice was opened in 1882 and consists of the High Court of Justice (divided into the Divisions of Family, Chancery and the Queen's Bench), and the Court of Appeal. ...read more.

Conclusion

the fact that, since proceedings had been issued in January 1995, things had 'by and large improved'; (b) 'all the background to this case', and (c) the possible consequences respectively of making and of not making an order for possession...In my judgement there is nothing in any of the grounds presented to this court and, for my part, I waould unhesitatingly dismiss this appeal.' 12. Issues raised in the initial judgement reiterated by Lloyd J He highlighted the fact that Judge Sitch had commented on the particular issues facing the Housing Action Trust concerning the Stonebridge Estate. In addition, he talked of the trial judge's appreciation for the seriousness of the matter as well as his inconclusive report on the involvement in the drug dealing that had occurred. The fact that she had not been personally dealing in drugs added to the fact that the events had not been recent were the main two mitigating factors for the respondents. He also went over the section of the original judgement where the question of reasonableness had been approached and considered Article 8 of the Human rights Act. The trial judge had accepted that the fact Gabbindon was a single mother could not be enough to suspend or stay the warrant but even with the issue of drugs, he had to consider the age of the children in question. This led him to 'reluctantly conclude' that it would not be correct in this case to make an order although any further evidence would mean immediate possession. 1 See appendix 1 2 See appendix 2 3 A v Lambeth London Borough Council [2001] 3 FCR 673 4 See appendix 3 5 See appendix 4 6 See appendix 5 7 Gallagher v Castle Vale Action Trust Limited [2002] EWCA Civ 944 8 See appendix 6 9 See appendix 7 10 See appendix 8 11 See appendix 9 12 See appendix 10 13 See appendix 11 14 See appendix 12 15 Unable to locate this case. The spelling of Musa may be incorrect. Eve Emedo November 2002 English Legal System Course Work ...read more.

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