Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Court of Appeal Grants permission for second appeal in Russell v Solihull MBC

Mr R was evicted from his “move on” accommodation which was never going to be his forever home. Solihull found that he was evicted due to his behaviour and was therefore intentionally homeless. The decision was upheld on review.

Mr R appealed to the County Court pursuant to s204 Housing Act 1996, where he was represented by Zia Nabi of Doughty St Chambers instructed by Lizzie Blacklock and Mike McIlvaney of CLP.

In the cases of Ali v Birmingham, and Moran v Manchester, the Supreme Court held that someone who lived in a women’s refuge remained homeless when living there as it could only ever be temporary accommodation.

In Mr R’s case it was argued that the same applied to his “move on” accommodation, it could not be regarded as anything other than short – term accommodation, and it followed that he remained homeless whilst occupying it and could not, therefore, be intentionally homeless as a result of losing it.

Recorder Kangoure, in his judgment held that the “move on” accommodation could be distinguished from the refuge accommodation in Moran.

Lord Justice Arnold granted permission for a second appeal, because, inter alia, “the grounds of appeal have a real prospect of success and raise an important point of principle as to the ambit of the decision in Ali v Birmingham City Council….”

Those familiar with the difficulties in trying to persuade the Legal Aid Agency to grant funding for appeals to the higher courts will not be surprised to learn that it was not all plain sailing.

Once again, we had to issue the appeal “at risk”. That is, at risk of not getting paid for the work that we did in bringing the appeal, because there was no legal aid in place to cover it.

An application to amend the legal aid certificate, supported by 56 pages of documentation including counsel’s opnion and grounds of appeal, was refused, twice. When we appealed against the refusal a legal aid caseworker threatened to “close the appeal down” unless we confirmed within 10 days whether the CoA had granted permission. The CoA had graciously extended time limits due to the difficulties we were having with the LAA.

The Appeal was then refused without reasons. A JR pre action protocol letter was sent and a refusal with reasons was provided, enabling us to appeal to an IFA addressing those reasons.

When we finally got the case to the stage of being considered by an Independent Funding Adjudicator legal aid was granted, and the permission application could proceed.