Tribunal procedure

Can the First-Tier Tribunal consider an issue not raised by the parties?

Tribunal procedure

The background

Southern Land Securities Limited v Poole [2017] concerned a claim by a landlord for the recovery of service charge. Mr Poole, a tenant, disputed the reasonableness of some works undertaken by the landlord but the First-Tier Tribunal did not consider this point, or any of the facts of the case, in reaching its decision which limited the landlord’s recovery of some of the costs.

The First-Tier Tribunal instead reached its decision by referring to consultation and notice requirements set out by law, but this point had not been raised by the tenant and did not form part of his case. Further, the First-Tier Tribunal did not allow the case to be adjourned, therefore denying the landlord the opportunity to put together evidence to support any counter-argument.

 

The decision

The Upper Tribunal concluded that the First-Tier Tribunal was not able to consider the statutory consultation point, which went beyond its jurisdiction. Neither party had raised the issue but the First-Tier Tribunal decided against the landlord on this point, which the Upper Tribunal decided was a breach of natural justice.

The landlord’s appeal was allowed, as even if the First-Tier Tribunal was able to consider the issue, the landlord’s request for an adjournment had been refused and it was therefore unable to pull together evidence to dispute the point.  

 

Advice and action for landlords

Landlords can often find themselves in the First-Tier Tribunal. Occasionally, the Tribunal may stray from its own set procedures, which can adversely affect landlords and management companies.

This case is a reminder that the Tribunal must stick to the parties’ pleaded cases in its judgements and cannot go beyond to look at issues which have not been raised by either party.

If landlords are unsure about how to operate in the First-Tier Tribunal, then legal advice should be sought to ensure that landlords are not on the end of a detrimental decision, such as in this case. It could have huge financial consequences.
 

This case is a reminder that the Tribunal must stick to the parties’ pleaded cases in its judgements and cannot go beyond to look at issues which have not been raised by either party.

Author

Stuart Miles
Stuart Miles
Associate

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