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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions >> Sheffield City Council v Hopkins  EWCA Civ 1023 (19 June 2001)
Cite as:  EWCA Civ 1023,  1 P & CR DG5,  26 EGCS 163,  HLR 12
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COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM SHEFFIELD COUNTY COURT
(HIS HONOUR JUDGE BARTFIELD)
Tuesday 19 June 2001
B e f o r e :
(The Lord Woolf of Barnes)
LORD JUSTICE TUCKEY
LADY JUSTICE ARDEN
|SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL||Appellant/Claimant|
Smith Bernal, 190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2HD
Telephone 0201 7421 4040
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR KIM LEWISON QC and MR JAMES STARK (instructed the Law Centre, Sheffield S3 8GW) appeared on behalf of THE RESPONDENT
Crown Copyright ©
Tuesday 19 June 2001
"It seems to me that there is merit in the Defendant's argument. Where the Act has laid down a regulatory mechanism, one cannot look in isolation at parts of that mechanism. There is an obligation to be specific. Only on grounds specified in a notice can the court make an order. If then, a warrant is issued and an application is made to suspend it, it is not logical to allow the whole history to be opened up, nor is there any support for that contention in the statute.
It is not surprising that there is a power and discretion in rent cases to impose other conditions if appropriate. It is not logical to look at matters not relevant to the ground and to allow the landlord to rely on matters not in the proceedings up to then."
"For these reasons in the circumstances of this case, the consideration of suspension of the warrant should relate only to the original ground and not extend to matters that are outside those grounds."
Resolving the Issues
Part IV commences with section 79 which deals with secure tenancies, with which we are here concerned. Section 80 identifies social landlords such as Sheffield City Council. Section 81 identifies the tenants in which Part IV applies. Section 82 sets out the nature of a tenancy which is granted security by the Act. It states that a secure tenancy to which Part IV applies cannot be brought to an end by the landlord except by obtaining an order of the court for the possession of the dwelling house or an order under subsection (3) of that section. Subsection (2) provides:
"Where the landlord obtains an order for the possession of the dwelling-house, the tenancy ends on the date on which the tenant is to give up possession in pursuance of the order."
"(1) The court shall not entertain proceedings for the possession of a dwelling-house let under a secure tenancy or proceedings for the termination of a secure tenancy unless --
(a) the landlord has served a notice on the tenant complying with the provisions of this section, or
(b) the court considers it just and equitable to dispense with the requirement of such a notice.
(2) A notice under this section shall --
(a) be in a form prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State;
(b) specify the ground on which the court will be asked to make an order for the possession of the dwelling-house or for the termination of the tenancy, and
(c) give particulars of that ground.
(3) Where the tenancy is a periodic tenancy and the ground or one of the grounds specified in the notice is Ground 2 in Schedule 2 (nuisance or other anti-social behaviour), the notice --
(a) shall also --
(i)state that proceedings for the possession of the dwelling-house may be begun immediately, and
(ii)specify the date sought by the landlord as the date on which the tenant is to give up possession of the dwelling-house...."
"The court shall not make an order for possession --
(a) on the grounds set out in Part I of that Schedule (grounds 1 to 8), unless it considers it reasonable to make the order [my emphasis]...."
"Where a notice under section 83 has been served on the tenant, the court shall not make such an order on any of those grounds above unless the ground is specified in the notice; but the grounds so specified may be altered or added to with the leave of the court."
"(1) Where proceedings are brought for possession of a dwelling-house let under a secure tenancy on any of the grounds set out in Part I or Part III of Schedule 2 (grounds 1 to 8 and 12 to 16: cases in which the court must be satisfied that it is reasonable to make a possession order), the court may adjourn the proceedings for such period or periods as it thinks fit.
(2) On the making of an order for possession of such a dwelling-house on any of those grounds, or at any time before the execution of the order, the court may --
(a) stay or suspend the execution of the order, or
(b) postpone the date of possession, for such period or periods as the court thinks fit.
(3) On such an adjournment, stay, suspension or postponement the court --
(a) shall impose conditions with respect to the payment by the tenant of arrears of rent (if any) and rent or payments in respect of occupation after the termination of the tenancy (mesne profits), unless it considers that to do so would cause exceptional hardship to the tenant or would otherwise be unreasonable, and
(b) may impose such other conditions as it thinks fit.
(4) If the conditions are complied with, the court may, if it thinks fit, discharge or rescind the order for possession."
(a) The discretion should be used to further the policy of Part IV of the Housing Act 1985, reinforced as it is by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. Accordingly, the courts should bear in mind that that policy is one which involves evicting the tenant from his or her home only after a serious breach of the tenant's obligations has been established, when it is reasonable to do so, and the tenant has been proved to have breached any condition of the order for suspension.
(b) The overriding principles contained in Part 1 of the Civil Procedure Rules, and in particular the need for applications to be dealt with in a summary and proportionate manner. These principles may mean that wider issues cannot be dealt with in the framework of an application to suspend the execution of a warrant and they have to be dealt with in some other way.
(c) The need for the tenant to have clear notice of the allegations being made, even though the position is one where what is being relied upon is not contained in the order for possession which was originally made.
(d) The fact that the claimant had or had not included allegations as part of the original proceedings or sought to have a condition inserted which covered the allegation in the order for possession which had previously been made. If a claimant has included an allegation as part of the original proceedings, or sought to have a condition inserted, then that will be in favour of the district judge exercising his discretion to take into account the material sought to be relied upon by the landlord in opposing the tenants' application to prevent execution.
(e) Whether the allegation relates to events which occurred prior to the order for possession being made. While allowance must be made for the fact that the local authority may not have wanted to have the expense of complex and contested proceedings, generally the discretion should be more readily exercised in favour of taking into account matters which had occurred subsequent to the order for possession being made than it would be if they relate to matters prior to the proceedings being commenced.
(f) The practicality of dealing with contested issues of fact on a hearing for suspension etc of a warrant for execution.
(g) The fact that the tenant is at mercy and the responsibilities of a public landlord to their other tenants.