In this appeal by way of case stated – an appeal to the High Court directly from the Magistrates’ Court concerning matters of law and the exercise of the magistrates’ jurisdiction – the High Court considered the magistrates’ assessment of costs and compensation.
In Taylor and another v Burton , Mrs Turner was the owner of a property managed by agents on her behalf. The tenant was dissatisfied with the condition of the building and brought a nuisance claim in the magistrates’ court under s.79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The damp problem at the property was resolved during the proceedings and the parties agreed that the nuisance had been abated, leaving only the tenant’s application for compensation outstanding.
Magistrates concluded that the nuisance, for which the landlord was responsible, had existed at the time of the application. An application to adjourn the matter was refused, and the court sat later to hear the compensation quantum submissions. The magistrates reduced the compensation owing to the tenant, and the landlords (Mrs Taylor and her agents) were to pay half each of the remaining sum of £29,079.80. The landlords brought an appeal in the High Court by way of case stated, on the grounds that the magistrates did not have the jurisdiction to make the order.
The High Court considered 4 key issues:
The Court found on each point:
Advice and action for landlords
The outcome of the landlords' appeal is a point of practice guidance for cases brought in the Magistrates’ Court, in particular the assessment of quantum of compensation. There had been insufficient indication presented that the magistrates had taken a proper approach to quantum assessment, and the magistrates had also erred in law when ordering compensation to be paid to the tenant’s solicitors.
When considering the points and materials presented to the magistrates, the High Court could be satisfied that key facts had been missed by the magistrates in its decision, particularly regarding proportionality of the claims and the landlords’ means.
There had been insufficient indication presented that the magistrates had taken a proper approach to quantum assessment, and the landlords’ appeal was therefore largely successful.