Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Archived News

Using A Sledgehammer to Crack a Nut

By Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers and Chris Johnson of Community Law Partnership solicitors

In recent months, there has been a marked increase in the number of local authorities seeking so-called ‘wide injunctions’. In one such case, London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown, the claimant authority is seeking an injunction against Traveller encampments covering 171 pieces of public land. London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) have been granted permission to intervene in this case. LGT are represented pro bono by the authors of this piece.

CLP at the Supreme Court

The legal team and supporters of Terryann Samuels at the Supreme Court : Alex Pearce (mini-pupil Garden Court North Chambers); Ranjit Bains (CLP); Des Smith; Alex Bellew (CLP); Mike McIlvaney (CLP); Rosaleen Kilbane (CLP); Hugh McIlvaney; James Stark (GCN); Tom Royston (GCN).

The case of Terryann Samuels –v- Birmingham City Council came to the Supreme Court on Thursday 31st January 2019.

The appellant was the tenant of a house at 18 Dagger Lane from November 2010 to July 2011, when her tenancy was terminated due to rent arrears.  She was in receipts of benefits, including housing benefit, which did not cover her actual rent, but left her with a monthly shortfall.  She made a homelessness application to the respondent housing authority but was judged to have become homeless intentionally, because her house was affordable.  She appealed, claiming that the respondent had failed to follow the relevant guidance and had not given adequate reasons for the conclusion that there was sufficient flexibility in her income from benefits to fund the weekly shortfall in rent.

Chambers Directory

We have been ranked in Band 1 in the Chambers Directory for social housing. It says of us:-

“Well-regarded team with nationwide recognition.  Offers a diverse range of services including advice on possession and eviction proceedings, homelessness and housing allocation, and the defence of anti-social behaviour actions.  Also fields a number of specialists in accommodation for the Traveller community”.

All we need are Sites

By Chris Johnson of CLP and Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers

The Beatles sang ‘All you need is love’ whilst our refrain is ‘All we need are sites’. This has long been the song sung by Gypsies, Travellers and those that support them and campaign for their rights; and it was the reverberating theme of their responses to the recent Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consultation on strengthening enforcement powers.

A Comparison of the New and Old Police Guidance on Unauthorised Encampments

In June 2018 the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) introduced new guidance on unauthorised encampments, Operational Advice on Unauthorised Encampments, to replace the previous Association of Chief Police Officers’ Guidance on Unauthorised Encampments (2011). The new NPCC Advice can be found here:

Samuels v Birmingham City Council – Supreme Court Grants Permission

In October 2015 the Court of Appeal dismissed Ms Samuels’ appeal against the decision of HHJ Worcester, dismissing her s204 homeless appeal against the decision of Birmingham City Council that she was intentionally homeless because she could have made up the shortfall between her rent and her Housing Benefit from her subsistence benefits, but failed to do so.

Homelessness in Birmingham – A Case Study

On Tuesday afternoon 29th March 2018, our Housing Team were all out of the office being trained re: the Homelessness Reduction Act, which was to come into force the following week, when the mayday call came in. A street homeless family in the waiting room at 3.30 pm. One of our partners hot foots it back to base. Mum and Dad, twins aged 3, and a 5 month old baby had been evicted from a Birmingham City Council (BCC) hostel the day before, without notice.

The Unlawful Use of Public Spaces Protection Orders

by Chris Johnson, Marc Willers QC and David Watkinson

What are Public Spaces Protection Orders? 

A public spaces protection order (PSPO) is an order issued by a local authority which is designed to tackle activities carried on in a public place which have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in its locality and which prohibits specified things being done in a restricted area or requires specified things to be done by persons carrying on specified activities in that area, or does both of those things.