Government’s approach is almost certainly unlawfulMake Text Bigger
Evidence is emerging that County Court Bailiffs and High Court Sheriffs (HCEOs) are declining to enforce warrants and writs of possession.
Guidance has apparently come from the Lord Chancellor to Bailiffs, and the High Court Enforcement Officers Association has also publicised a letter received from Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor, asking them not to enforce writs of possession in areas with Tier 2 and Tier 3 lockdowns.
David Smith, partner at JMW Solicitors, says: “Naturally, evictions create hardship for those being evicted, probably more so right now. However, leaving tenants with huge arrears in place also creates hardship as the debt will follow them.
“The problem with the Government’s approach is that it is almost certainly unlawful. It is not open to Bailiffs or HCEOs to simply decline to enforce warrants and writs, even if the Lord Chancellor asks them to do so. They have a duty to do this. Indeed, there is a power to complain to the County Court, in the County Courts Act, about losses resulting from Bailiffs not enforcing warrants.
“This approach flies in the face of the new structures created around the re-opening of the courts for possession. Of course the government can prevent evictions if it wishes to. But it should do so lawfully by making regulations under the appropriate legislation and allowing Parliament to review them, not through backdoor letters to enforcement bodies. I have offered to seek judicial review on this on a “no win, no fee” basis for affected landlords.”
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