Case comment: Human rights, proportionality and local authority evictions

Updated | We posted earlier on the Supreme Court ruling in Manchester City Council (Respondent) v Pinnock (Appellant), that requires courts to be satisfied that any order for possession sought by local authorities must be “in accordance with the law”, and (ii) “necessary in a democratic society” – that is, that it should be proportionate in the full meaning of the word.

How far this takes us from the previous position, where the role of the county court was limited to conducting a conventional judicial review of the councils’ decision in such cases, remains to be seen.

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Supreme Court bolsters rights of council tenants threatened with eviction

Updated | Manchester City Council (Respondent) v Pinnock (Appellant) [2010] UKSC 45 On appeal from the Court of Appeal [2009] EWCA Civ 852 – Read judgment / press summary

The following is based on the Supreme Court press summary. Our full case comment is to follow.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to family life) requires that a court, when asked by a local authority to make an order for possession of a person’s home, must have the power to assess the proportionality of making the order.

The 9-strong court departed from a series of House of Lords (its predecessor’s) decisions in order to follow a strong line of European Court of Human Rights authority (summarised at para 45 of the decision). The judgment was unanimous, and follows the important recent decision of the European court in Kay and Others v United Kingdom (see our post), as well as that in Connors v UK and others. The decision represents a welcome clarification of the rights of council tenants facing eviction, following a long and tortuous line of conflicting decisions from both the UK and European courts.

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