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Possession Orders and Occupiers

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Whether an occupier had received sufficient notice of possession order.

The background

In Brooker & Wilson v St Paul [2017], the occupier owned 50% of the interest in the flat, with the second 50% owned by Ms Brooker and Ms Wilson. The parties had agreed that the occupier should buy out Brooker and Wilson, or otherwise vacate the property so that it could be sold. She had done neither by the agreed deadline, and an order for possession was subsequently granted.

Following a further deadline, the occupier had still not vacated or funded the 50% purchase; a further possession order was granted and a writ of possession was executed. The occupier asked the court to set aside the writ, arguing that she had received no notification of the application.

The decision

The High Court held that the occupier had received sufficient notice of the proceedings. She had been involved in them throughout and was aware of the final possession order. The intentions of Brooker and Wilson were clear in that they would look to enforce the order.

The Civil Procedure Rules states that any person in possession of a property must receive sufficient notice of possession proceedings to allow them to apply for relief from any writ. The recent decision in Partridge v Gupta [2017] stated that ‘notice of the proceedings’ constituted a general notice and not a specific notice of the application for a writ; Booker & Wilson v St Paul confirmed this.

Advice and action for landlords

This decision provides reassurance for landlords that, where an application for a writ of possession is sought, specific notice does not need to be supplied to occupiers where the occupiers are aware of proceedings and, in particular, where they have been involved in them.

It is recommended that landlords keep occupiers notified of proceedings where claims are issued for possession orders, obtaining acknowledgements that communications have been received and ensuring that all parties are appraised of dates, timescales and orders made during proceedings.

The High Court held that the occupier had received sufficient notice of the proceedings, having been involved in them throughout and being aware that a possession order had been granted.

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