Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council -v- Armour

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council -v- Armour [2014] EWCA Civ 231, 12 March 2014

This is not a Gypsy or Traveller case but is very important from the point of view of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998. Mr Armour was an introductory tenant of the local authority. After three incidents of anti-social behaviour early on in the tenancy, the Council began proceedings for possession.

The case came to trial nearly a year after the last of the three incidents during which time here had been no further problem arising out of Mr Armour’s behaviour. Mr Armour sought to defend the action under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and home).

In Manchester City Council – v – Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45, Lord Neuberger stated (at para 74):-

Where it is required in order to give effect to an occupier’s Article 8 Convention Rights, the court’s powers of review can, in an appropriate case, extend to reconsidering for itself the facts found by a local authority, or indeed to considering facts which have arisen since the issue of proceedings, by hearing evidence and forming its own view.

Lewison LJ, in dismissing the appeal by the Council against the refusal of the trial judge to give a possession order, stated (at para 30):-

The question is not whether the circumstances are exceptional because as the Supreme Court pointed out in Pinnock exceptionality is an outcome rather than a test. Where, as here, the tenant under an introductory tenancy gets off to a shaky start, but mends his ways for almost all of the one year period, I consider that that improvement in behaviour is capable of being a factor in deciding whether it is disproportionate for the landlord to continue to insist on recovering possession. What weight to give it is a question for the trial judge. In my judgment, on the material that was before the Recorder she was entitled to come to the conclusion that by the trial date, it had become disproportionate to make a possession order. Other judges might have come to a different conclusion, but that does not mean that the Recorder’s conclusion in our case was wrong.

This is a very important decision under Article 8 in moving away from a total emphasis (as has happened in many previous cases) on the question of exceptionality. See: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council -v- Armour Judgment