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Social Housing Speed Read – A blanket stay on possession proceedings – further clarification

We recently discussed the case of Arkin, whereby a challenge to the blanket stay on all possession proceedings (Practice Direction 51Z) was made. This week's speed read is somewhat of a follow-on, as we look at another case seeking clarity on the application of PD 51Z.

Click here to view the previous speed read.

London Borough of Hackney v Okoro (2020) is, rather confusingly, an appeal on an appeal. Mr Okoro had been presented with a possession order by his landlord, the London Borough of Hackney (“LBH”). Unhappy with this outcome, he sought to appeal however proceedings were stayed until 25 June 2020 as per PD 51Z.

The LBH did not agree that the proceedings should be stayed, however. It argued that:

“PD 51Z does not even apply to all claims under CPR Part 55, because consent orders for case management directions and actions against trespassers are excluded. Moreover, the “proceedings for possession” under CPR Part 55 cease when a possession order is made, and the appeal process is entirely governed by CPR Part 52, so putting it outside the terms of PD 51Z”.

Mr Okoro, on the other hand, argued that the basis for the implementation of PD 51Z was to “protect public health and ensure that the courts are not overwhelmed during the pandemic” and that this purpose was expressly stated and so appeals are, inevitably, included. The Court of Appeal agreed.

The Court focused on the wording of the practice direction itself, finding that proceedings “brought under CPR Part 55”, still applied to appeals brought to challenge possession claim outcomes. The procedure governing possession claims is contained within CPR Part 55 and so the stay must therefore also extend to cover appeals.

It is worth noting, however, that PD 51Z does not apply to appeals in the Supreme Court. This is due to the fact that such appeals are beyond the jurisdiction of the body which implemented the temporary legislation.

In summary, the legislation really is far-reaching and the blanket stay seems to extend to all possible aspects of possession proceedings, albeit housing providers should note that the stay does not apply to exclusion order appeals (ie. An Order to exclude a party from the family home).

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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