Stephensons leads in landmark anti-social behaviour case at the Court of Appeal

Landmark legal ruling changes the way professional bodies deal with their members

Today is the beginning of the expected one day trial setting a precedent in the way in which cases involving anti-social behaviour will be dealt with by the courts.

Both cases at the Court of Appeal relate to possession proceedings taken by the landlord as a result of the tenants having been found with cannabis farm's at the property and are led by our expert housing solicitor Amy Tagoe.

In the case of Roberts, Stephensons secured a suspended possession order for three years by the County Court. The High Court allowed the landlord’s appeal and varied the possession order to an outright possession order. Stephensons’ further appeal will now be heard at the Court of Appeal.

In the case of Massey, Stephensons secured a three year suspended possession order at the County Court. The landlord’s appeal was dismissed by the High Court, upholding the suspended possession order. The landlord has now appealed the decision to be heard at the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal will provide guidance on the application of the anti-social behaviour test set out in Sandwell v Hensley.  The test as it is currently applied is whether there is "cogent evidence which demonstrates a sound basis for hope that the previous conduct will cease". 

The Court of Appeal will consider two questions when providing their guidance:

  1. When there is a finding of dishonesty against the defendant can the test still be met
  2. If the tenant is relying on external factors/assistance for the behaviour to cease can the test still be met

There is clearly inconsistencies in the way judges are approaching the test and permission to appeal was granted on the basis that guidance is needed. 

Stephensons is asking the court to find that:

  1. A finding of dishonesty, while relevant, is not a determinative factor in respect of the test for suspending a possession order
  2. The test for suspending a possession order is not limited to having something to do with the tenant and can where appropriate be met in circumstances where the tenant relies on external safeguard to ensure future compliance with the tenancy agreement and/or terms of suspension.