The defendant to possession proceedings in respect of an introductory tenancy consulted us two days before the adjourned possession hearing.
There had been two previous hearings, but the defendant, who suffers from mental illness, had had difficulty in obtaining legal advice. Emergency Legal Aid was granted and, at the hearing, Sean Gilmore applied for a further short adjournment to enable him to file a full defence on behalf of the tenant. The application was opposed and the Deputy District Judge refused to grand an adjournment and made an outright possession order. On appeal to the Circuit Judge, HHJ Worster granted permission to appeal but dismissed the appeal. The eviction date was set for 7th July. Sean applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. On 5th July we received the decision of the Court of Appeal. Lord Justice Burnett, granting permission said:
“The circumstances of this case are unusual. This is a second appeal. It does not raise an important point of principle or practice but the compelling reason why I grant limited permission is that the appellant, a paranoid schizophrenic is at risk of being made street homeless, in circumstances where the anti-social behaviour underpinning the possession proceedings appeared to abate between September 2015 and May 2016.
On ground 1. I am persuaded that it is arguable that the circumstances which confronted the Deputy District Judge were such that he was wrong to refuse the short adjournment requested.
On ground 2. It was accepted by the council that the appellant suffered from mental illness and, at least implicitly, in the evidence that his mental illness was at the root of the shocking anti-social behaviour which his neighbours have had to endure. This was not a case of judgment in default of defence. It is arguable that proportionally under the Equality Act needed explicit consideration”.
Eviction cancelled for the meantime at least. Well done Sean for not giving up!