Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Gypsy and Traveller Cases

Lawal – v – Circle 33 Housing Trust Limited

Lawal – v – Circle 33 Housing Trust Limited [2014] EWCA Civ 1514

By David Watkinson (retired barrister) and Chris Johnson (Travellers Advice Team)

In R (JL) – v – Secretary of State for Defence [2012] EWCA Civ 449, the Court of Appeal upheld the Judge at first instance who had held that a proportionality argument could be raised at the enforcement stage of a possession order (i.e. after it had been made and when a writ or warrant to bailiffs to execute the order had been issued) although only in exceptional cases, otherwise it would be an abuse of the process of the court to do so.  Such a case could be where “there is a fundamental change in the occupants’ personal circumstances after the making of a possession order but before its enforcement” (para 41) or, as in this case, the state of the law at the time of the possession hearing was that the proportionality argument could not be made (para 42).  In the recent Court of Appeal Judgment in Lawal – v – Circle 33 Housing Trust Limited ([2014] EWCA Civ 1514), the Court of Appeal added a case where an Article 8 defence had been advanced before the first instance judge but she “either declined to hear it or peremptorily dismissed it but in either case, she gave no reasons for doing so” (para 90, Sir Terence Etherton LJ). 

To read the Judgment in this case, see: http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/1514.html&query=Lawal+and+v+and+Circle+and+33&method=boolean

Moore & Coates -v- SSCLG

Moore & Coates -v- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Bromley and Dartford Borough Council and Equality and Human Rights Commission [2015] EWHC 44 (Admin)

Ms Moore and Ms Coates are Romani Gypsies who were seeking planning permission for single pitch sites for themselves and their families (in Ms Moore’s case from London Borough of Bromley and in Ms Coates’ case from Dartford Borough Council). Ms Moore had previously been refused planning permission by a Planning Inspector but had had that decision quashed by a High Court Judge and that quashing of the decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal (see the Travellers Times blog ‘Gypsy Woman wins in Court of Appeal’ http://travellerstimes.org.uk/Blog–Comment/Gypsy-woman-wins-in-court-of-appeal.aspx.

Following the quashing of the Planning Inspector’s decision, Ms Moore’s case was returned to another Planning Inspector. Ms Coates had applied for planning permission which had been refused by the local planning authority. She had appealed to a Planning Inspector. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG), Mr Pickles, decided to recover their appeal cases to make the decisions himself.

Worcestershire County Council -v- J (By His Litigation Friend W) and the Equality and Human Rights

Worcestershire County Council -v- J (By His Litigation Friend W) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission [2014] EWCA Civ 1518

Our report of the first instance judgment in this matter is at:- http://www.communitylawpartnership.co.uk/links/tat-news – TAT News E Bulletin No. 5.

J’s parents are Travelling Showpeople.  They are based in Worcestershire but travel elsewhere in the country between February and November each year.  They have a winter base at Malvern.  J suffers from Down’s Syndrome and is a “child in need” because of his disability.

O’Connor -v- SSCLG & Epping Forest District Council

O’Connor – v – Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Epping Forest District Council [2014] EWHC 3821 (Admin), 20 November 2014

This case involved an attempt by Irish Traveller families to obtain planning permission for a site in the Green Belt.  The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) decided to “recover” the appeal that went to the Planning Inspector against the local authority’s refusal of planning permission. 

The Planning Inspector recommended to SSCLG that temporary permission should be granted.  SSCLG refused permission laying great emphasis on the question of flood risk.  In the High Court, Wyn Williams J quashed the SSCLG’s decision stating:-

In my Judgment the conclusion reached by the [SSCLG] about the flood risk on the appeal site was unreasonable and/or it failed to take account of material considerations namely the factual conclusions made by the Inspector and his Judgment based upon those factual conclusions (para 46).

See: O’Connor -v- SSCLG & Epping Forest District Council Judgment

Planning Permission in the Green Belt – the very special circumstances test

Redhill Aerodrome Limited -v- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Tandridge District Council [2014] EWHC 2476 (Admin)

By: Marc Willers QC, Garden Court Chambers

The planning policy governing the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites is to be found in Planning policy for traveller sites (2012) and the policy governing all forms of development in the Green Belt is to be found in Part 9 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2012). Like other types of housing, Gypsy and Traveller caravan sites are considered to be inappropriate development in the Green Belt and they will only be granted planning permission if ‘very special circumstances’ exist.

McDonald -v- McDonald

McDonald -v- McDonald [2014} EWCA Civ 1049 24 July 2014

Ms McDonald was an assured shorthold tenant of a private landlord. Eviction action was taken against her on the basis of the automatic ground for possession contained in Housing Act 1988 section 21. One of her grounds of defence was reliance on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights ( the right to respect for private and family life and home). The question, in terms of this ground, for the Court of Appeal, was whether she could rely on this ground of defence in an action involving a private landlord.

R (O’Brien & Anr) -v- Bristol City Council

R (O’Brien & Anr) -v- Bristol City Council (Secretary of State for Transport intervening) [2014] EWHC 2423 (Admin)

By Joe Markus of Garden Court North Chambers (who represented the O’Briens)

This case concerned the eviction of the O’Brien family from an unauthorised encampment off West Town Road under the Avonmouth Bridge, which carries the M5 motorway. The claim was issued in the High Court as a judicial review of the Council’s decision to seek possession due to the absence of legal aid for trespassers to defend possession proceedings brought against them.

Connors & Others -v- SSCLG & Others

Connors, Connors, Doran, Sines and Lee v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and others [2014] EWHC 2358 (Admin) 11 July 2014

This case involved 5 High Court planning appeals and applications under either Section 288 or Section 289 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that were all heard together. All of these cases had been recovered by the SSCLG under his powers to do so and in line with the Written Ministerial Statements of 1st July 2013 and 17th January 2014.