With all the changes impacting residential possession proceedings over the last year it has become a hot topic with everyone reaching for their crystal balls to see what the new “normal” will look like as the stay cannot be extended indefinitely!
With that in mind, last Thursday saw the JPLA invite one of the Association’s academic members, Dr Lisa Whitehouse, to speak about her research into the housing possession process and the court’s approach generally but in particular its response to the pandemic. As a Reader in Law at the University of Hull, Lisa was able to provide an interesting insight into the importance of defendant engagement and the impact of remote hearings on that.
Lisa was ably interviewed by Deputy District Judge Andrew Skelly. The combination of Lisa’s fresh perspective and Andrew’s practical views on the inner workings of the County Courts sparked a lively debate about the new R and S dates with the audience giving anecdotal evidence of their experiences over the last year. Much of which was the usual bemoaning of the delays in the County Court which many of us will sadly be all too familiar with, but also some interesting thoughts on how we can all get the best out of the new structure.
Lisa’s current research is focused on the highly anticipated mediation pilot running in the County Courts of which there appears to be little to no information for practitioners at present so we, like many of you we are sure, look forward to hearing what, if any, impact that might have on the way we approach possession proceedings in the future. The consensus appeared to be that whilst mediation is preferable and, hopefully, can be a way to increase tenant engagement in the possession process generally, the format and usefulness of a scheme as proposed remains to be seen.
It was a great opportunity to hear from one of our academic members and the JPLA hope that this is the start of many to come.
If you would like further information about Lisa’s research or would like to discuss any of the points raised at the event with her she would welcome comments and feedback by email (L.A.Whitehouse@hull.ac.uk).
Liberty Chappel and Lindsey Whittle
on behalf of the JPLA Committee