Appeal out of time

March 27th, 2019 by James Goudie KC

In Tower Hamlets London Borough Council v Abdullah Al Ahmed (2019) EWHC 749 (QB) Dove J considered whether an appeal to the County Court in a homelessness case should be treated as out of time under Section 204 of the Housing Act 1996.  Section 204(2A)(b) provides that the Court may give permission for an appeal to be brought after the prescribed 21 day period, but only if the Court is satisfied that there is “good reason”.  Dove J said:-

“11.    A number of important points need to be taken into account when approaching the exercise of discretion under section 204(2A) (b) and considering whether in a case where permission to appeal is sought after the 21 day time limit there is “good reason” for the failure to bring the claim in time. The first point is that the merits of the substance of the appeal are no part of the consideration of this question. …

  1. … there is no general principle in cases of this kind which fixes a party with the procedural errors of his or her representative, nor is there a general principle which enables a litigant to shelter behind the mistakes of their legal advisors. … the approach to be taken to the responsibility of a litigant and his advisors must always depend upon the particular facts and the available evidence in any given case. In short, there are no bright lines in deciding whether or not there is a good reason for the delay in bringing an appeal of this kind. All of the factual circumstances have to be carefully examined and scrutinised. No doubt there may be common themes in cases of this kind, such as the involvement of default or inactivity on the part of legal representatives, or the circumstance that the proposed Appellant suffers from ill-health of some kind which may impede or obstruct their ability to prosecute the appeal. These, and no doubt other common features of cases of this kind, are all factors which are relevant to the question of whether or not there has been good reason, and the weight to be attached to them will depend upon the particular evidence before the court in that case.”

“14.     … It is clear … that the fact that a party is not professionally represented could play only a very limited, if any, part in the assessment of whether or not there was good reason for a departure from the time limit in bringing the appeal in cases of this sort. …”

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