Social Housing Speed Read – Case Report
5th November, 2021
Case Report: Gunn & Launders v Khan
This case concerns the imprisonment of landlord, Saakib Khan, pursuant to his tenant, Mr Gunn’s, contempt application for breach of an injunction order.
On 15 May 2020, an ex-parte injunction was made against Mr Khan; the terms of which prevented him from evicting/attempting to evict Mr Gunn, from interfering with Mr Gunn’s quiet enjoyment of the property, and from threatening Mr Gunn with violence or harassing/pestering/intimidating him.
The terms of the order specified that it was ‘effective immediately upon its contents having been notified to the [appellant] by personal service of the injunction upon him or by other means’. The Court, however, ordered that service could be effected by putting the order through the letterbox of Mr Khan’s address, as recorded with the Council and the Land Registry. Service was effected in this way, on 15 May. Mr Gunn’s representatives also spoke to Mr Khan on the telephone on 18 May and sent him a text.
The return date for the injunction proceedings was on 19 May 2020. Mr Khan did not attend. Immediately after the hearing, Mr Khan was found to be changing the locks to Mr Gunn’s room. He was removed by the police.
Mr Gunn made an application for committal for breach of injunction that day.
At the committal hearing, in November 2020, Mr Khan’s Counsel claimed that:
- The application was subject to the amended CPR 81 which came into effect on 1 October 2020. They claimed that, as per CPR 81.5, a contempt application had to be served on a defendant personally, unless the court directed otherwise. He said that an order for alternative service could not be relied upon. This point was rejected by the Court – it was held that CPR 81 would not apply retrospectively.
- The court could not be satisfied – to the criminal standard required – that Mr Khan was aware of the terms of the injunction order before 19 May.
The Circuit Judge found that:
- The injunction order had been served, to the appropriate address, in compliance with the terms of the order.
- Mr Khan spoke to Mr Gunn’s representative on the telephone on 18 May. She told him there was a hearing the next day in relation to an injunction order made against him; the terms of the order were not specified.
- Both Mr Khan’s response to the text informing him of the hearing date and his attempt to illegally evict Mr Gunn whilst the return hearing was ongoing, indicated that Mr Khan had knowledge of the terms of the order.
- Mr Khan failed to provide any evidence for the committal hearing; the adverse inference, that Mr Khan did not provide evidence because he had no answer to the allegations, was drawn.
The Court determined that the evidence as a whole indicated that Mr Khan had been served with the Order and he was aware of its terms.
Although this relates to the committal of a landlord, it is a useful case for Housing Providers to consider when arranging for the service of committal applications. The list of evidence the Circuit Judge considered in determining that service had been effected is particularly useful and suggests that all correspondence with, and conduct of, the defendant should be recorded, as it may be necessary to prove service.
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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