January 28th, 2019 by James Goudie KC

Dylan Powell v Dacorum Borough Council (2019) EWCA Civ 23 concerned an application for an order suspending a warrant for possession.  The warrant had been issued, at the request of the Council, as landlord, in enforcement of a possession order of residential premises.  The issue on the appeal was whether the application, which was refused, should have succeeded, on the basis that, in pursuing the enforcement, the Council acted in breach of the PSED.  The appeal was dismissed.McCombe LJ (whose Judgment in Bracking is the locus classicus on the PSED) said:

“44.     In my judgment, the previous decisions of the courts on the present subject of the application and working of the PSED, as on all subjects, have to be taken in their context. The impact of the PSED is universal in application to the functions of public authorities, but its application will differ from case to case, depending upon the function being exercised and the facts of the case. The cases to which we have been referred on this appeal have ranged across a wide field, from a Ministerial decision to close a national fund supporting independent living by disabled persons (Bracking) through to individual decisions in housing cases such as the present. One must be careful not to read the judgments (including the judgment in Bracking) as though they were statutes. The decision of a Minister on a matter of national policy will engage very different considerations from that of a local authority official considering whether or not to take any particular step in ongoing proceedings seeking to recover possession of a unit of social housing.”

“51      … Obviously, local authority landlords have to have proper regard to the duty under s.149 and I would hope that the headings collected together in paragraph 26 of my judgment in Bracking will assist authorities in meeting their responsibilities in these as in other cases. However, the decision to seek possession of a social housing unit in respect of which a court has already made a possession order is different in character from the decision under consideration in Bracking.”

The Court concluded that the Council had not been in breach of the PSED when it requested the warrant.

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