You are here

Supreme Court in surprise refusal to hear housing appeal

9 November 2009

Solicitors on both sides were taken by surprise after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in the Weaver case.

The Court of Appeal ruled in June, by a two to one majority, that housing associations could be public bodies for human rights purposes when involved in possession proceedings (see Solicitors Journal 153/25, 30 June 2009).

Susan Weaver argued in R (on the application of Weaver) v London & Quadrant Housing Trust [2009] EWCA Civ 587 that eviction would breach her rights under article 8 (right to private life).

Her claim depended on the housing trust being a public body under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. Lord Justices Elias and Lawrence Collins ruled that it was, with Lord Justice Rix dissenting.

Brian McKenna, principal of McKenna & Co in Hounslow, acted for Mrs Weaver. He said he expected the Supreme Court to give permission for the appeal, and was gearing up for a hearing next year.

“Bearing in mind the impact of this ruling on a large number of housing association tenants, I would have thought the court would have been interested in hearing the arguments,” he said.

“Litigants and their advisers are very aware of it and will try and use it as a defence against possession proceedings and other decisions taken by housing associations.”

He added that he was very pleased that the Court of Appeal ruling would stand, as was Mrs Weaver.

Lords Hope and Brown and Lady Hale made the decision to refuse permission to appeal. Reasons are never given for these decisions.

Helen Tucker, partner at Anthony Collins, said she was “incredibly surprised” by the Supreme Court, given that the case applied to the vast majority of housing associations and would lead to a lot more litigation.

Tucker, who advises housing associations, said: “If we have to apply the Court of Appeal’s decision as it stands, attempts will be made to challenge all kinds of management decisions.

“Another housing charity will end up seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court in another case.”

Tucker said that judicial reviews on the issue of withdrawal of resident caretakers, which were stayed pending the Supreme Court decision, would now go ahead.

Categorised in:

Procedures Police & Prisons Local government Vulnerable Clients