Leicester City Council v. Shearer


[2013] EWCA Civ 1467

The Court of Appeal upheld a successful public law defence in possession proceedings where the occupier had no tenancy and was, in strict legal terms, a trespasser.

After her husband died, the local authority refused to consider letting Mrs Shearer and her children remain in the family home, notwithstanding the power which it had to do so which was inscribed in its allocations policy. In the County Court she successfully argued that a refusal to at least consider exercising this power amounted to a breach of public law. On appeal the local authority argued that because she had not properly completed a housing register application, nor provided ID, the local authority had no technical legal power to offer her a tenancy. The Court of Appeal dismissed this argument. At all times the local authority had insisted that the sole purpose of registration was for rehousing – which she did not want. Having misled her about the purpose of registration, it could not then turn around and blame her for following the advice it had given her, or rely on procedural errors which it had caused as a justification for evicting her.


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