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Court of Appeal agrees to hear ‘second succession’ case

The Court of Appeal has agreed to hear a case over whether the rules governing the right to take over a social housing tenancy when a former tenant dies discriminate unlawfully between widows and divorcees contrary to Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In October 2018 the High Court ruled in London Borough of Haringey v Simawi and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government that there was no unlawful discrimination.

The background to the case was that Mulkhis Simawi’s mother had become a secure tenant after the death of her husband in 2001.

Haringey argued that she was the one ‘successor’ tenant allowed under the Housing Act 1985, and so Mr Simawi could not succeed to the tenancy on her death in 2013 and was thus unlawfully occupying the property. In December 2013 the council served a notice to quit.

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In October 2014 a district judge granted a possession order. Mr Simawi appealed and in July 2015 Recorder Bowdery QC granted the appeal.

In the High Court Mr Justice Murray accepted a submission by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government that the statutory rules were objectively justified.

4-5 Gray’s Inn Square, whose Toby Vanhegan and Hannah Gardiner are junior counsel for Mr Simawi, said the claimant had appealed against the High Court ruling on two grounds:

  1. The judge had been wrong to conclude that the claimant had no status for the purposes of Article 14.
  2. The judge did not properly consider the issues of legitimate aim and justification.

The case has been listed for October 2019, 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square said. “There are already a number of similar cases stayed behind this appeal. Since the decision in the High Court was handed down, some of those stays may have been lifted. Following the decision on permission, similar cases in the County Court should once again be stayed pending the outcome of the Court of Appeal hearing towards the end of this year,” it added.

See: Defences in second succession cases Niamh O’Brien’s analysis of the High Court ruling in Simawi.

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