Playing by the rules (and court orders!)

02 June 2017

Whitty v London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The County Court sitting at Central London. 20th March 2017

Housing practitioners beware for a change in the wind breezing through the courts at Central London. For some time the Court has been issuing standard directions for the disposal of housing act appeals to ensure that matters of such significance are dealt with efficiently and to reduce the backlog. This case demonstrates when the court says there should be compliance with court orders it means it, as the Appellant discovered to his peril.

In breach of the Order for directions, the Appellant’s amended grounds of appeal were months late, and so too the skeleton argument. The appeal bundle itself, which should have been with the court three clear days before the hearing, was filed late and had not reached the Judge at the start of the hearing. Enough was enough. The Court considered this a wholesale disregard of procedure and no good reason for these serious failings had been provided. An adjournment was not a fair and just alternative. The prospects of the local authority ever recovering its costs were remote, and other court users were prejudiced by the waste of judicial time. The appeal was struck out.

Genevieve Screeche-Powell of Field Court Chambers was instructed on behalf of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets