Estate Acquisitions & Developments v Wiltshire


[2006] EWCA Civ 533

Order for possession made against Defendants at hearing in which they did not attend and were not represented.  The main issue in the case was whether the Defendants had a good reason for not attending the hearing on an application to set aside the possession order under CPR 39.3(3)

The Defendants owned the long lease of a property with ground rent of £20 per annum.  They moved out of the property without providing a forwarding address to the freeholder and failed to pay the ground rent and other charges for a few years.  The freeholder issued forfeiture proceedings which were served by being sent to the property. The Defendants were unaware of the proceedings and did not attend the hearing and a possession order was made in their absence.  On application by the Defendants under CPR 39.3(3) the order was set aside.  It was reinstated following a successful appeal by the Claimant but the second appeal of the Defendants was allowed by the Court of Appeal;  “It is a striking feature of the case that the effect of the decision of Judge Knowles was that an unencumbered leasehold property worth more than £140,000 was forfeited for a debt of £849.21 in proceedings in which the defendants took no part and of which they had no knowledge” – per Dyson LJ.

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