Wednesday 1 May 2019

GLC statement on the reclaiming motion appeal in Ali v. Serco Ltd and others

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has been instructed by Mrs Shakar Omar Ali, a Kurdish Iraqi national, to pursue a reclaiming motion (appeal) before the Inner House of the Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court.  Reclaiming prints and a reclaiming motion to appeal the Opinion of Lord Tyre, handed down on 12 April 2019, will be lodged at the Court of Session tomorrow, Thursday, 2 May 2019.

GLC’s Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate said:  “With the decision of the Outer House judge being subject to live appeal proceedings GLC would trust that Serco Ltd will continue their previous undertaking not to undertake lock-change evictions in Glasgow pending the appeal.   The failure to do so would occasion the unnecessary legal expense of raising multiple interim interdict actions at Glasgow Sheriff Court pending the outcome of the appeal to Scotland’s supreme civil court”. 

“GLC believes our client has reasonably good prospects and grounds of appeal.  We were delighted that Lord Tyre held Serco was a public body for the purpose of the Human Rights Act 1998 - something that both Serco and the Home Office had strongly resisted at the debate in February this year.  Our understanding is that jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights - which has been followed in appellate courts in the UK - requires the interference with our client’s human rights by a lock-change eviction to be compatible with the rule of law, and not just her article 8 right to respect for her home and family life”.

“That requires UK or Scots law to be sufficient precise and foreseeable in its effect, and the safeguards suggested by the Outer House judge in our client’s case require numerous administrative hurdles to be overcome, none of which directly stop a lock change eviction.  With the greatest of respect, we can see no precise or foreseeable adequate safeguards for asylum seekers by making section 4 applications to the Home Office, or thereafter appealing refusals of further support to the First Tier Immigration Tribunal”.

“An appeal to the First Tier Tribunal does not stop or prevent an eviction – there is nothing in the Tribunal rules to empower the Tribunal to put a lock change eviction on hold pending an appeal.  Further, the court in our client’s case relied upon the English UK Supreme Court decision of R(N) V. Lewisham Borough Council [2015] A.C. 1259. This concerned people who had a day to day licence to stay in accommodation overnight. Because of the very temporary nature of their occupation the UK Supreme Court held they did not live in a dwelling - as their residence was too transient and short. Such transient occupiers also had numerous rights of appeal to prevent an eviction”. 

“Our client has lived in her home for over a year and a half. In these circumstances such occupiers are entitled to be taken to court before eviction – and can then defend those proceedings – there is a significant body of UK Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights case law that confirm occupiers of dwelling have this right.  Ultimately, both Serco and the Home Office placed considerable reliance on their “goodwill” not to undertake a lock change eviction on 7 days notice - despite there being no legal rules underpinning such goodwill, and the fact that the rule of law is concerned with precise legal rights, and not goodwill or speculation”. 

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Don't throw your cash away to a quick home buy company: GLC calls for greater public awareness raising in Scotland

Here Govan Law Centre's Laura Brennan, Trainee Solicitor, explains the pitfalls of giving your equity away to a quick home buy company in times of financial distress. 

Our recent Sheriff Appeal Court case of Santander -v- C emphasises the importance of homeowners seeking legal advice should their mortgage lender raise a court action for repossession against them. Unfortunately, some homeowners in these circumstances have proved vulnerable to private individuals or companies seeking to buy properties for well below the market value.

Govan Law Centre (GLC) is calling for greater awareness raising among Scottish homeowners of the consequences of a quick sale to avoid court action. Quick home buy companies operate in an unregulated market in the UK, so there is little or no consumer protection in practice. 

We recently assisted Mr C, a client whose mortgage lender had raised court action against him for repossession. Mr C had high arrears and a higher outstanding mortgage balance but as with all cases of repossession, the Court must still consider whether repossession is reasonable. 

Mr C suffered from poor health which affected his ability to work and consequently, his ability to pay his mortgage. Mr C was seeking an additional six months in the property during which time he would undertake improvement works to the property so that it could be marketed and sold. Unfortunately, this was not accepted by his lender who raised court action.

Decree was granted against Mr C when his case first called in court, given the level of his arrears. We appealed this decision on the grounds of reasonableness. It was the view of GLC that the Sheriff had not considered Mr C’s poor health or the impact on his daughter who attended school in the local area. It was also Mr C’s position that he had not had a fair and public and hearing, in accordance with his human rights.

After the appeal was raised and before a decision was made, a settlement agreement was reached. The terms of the agreement were that Mr C was allowed an additional four months in the property in order for it to be sold. We were delighted to learn recently that the additional time granted allowed Mr C to sell his property at a price that allowed him to discharge the security in full and Mr C will be left with a very sizeable cash surplus following the sale. By selling the property himself, Mr C was able to achieve the best possible open market value. This would not have been possible if he had not taken legal advice.

In similar circumstances some homeowners have opted for a quick sale of their property. We are aware of companies that offer to purchase the property of homeowners under this type of pressure. Typical offers begin at around 70% of the market value and continue to drop the further things are progressed. The proceeds that are obtained by the sale can also affect entitlement to Universal Credit and other means-tested benefits.

It is therefore of the utmost importance that, when faced with this situation, homeowners take legal advice to increase their awareness of their rights and maximise the proceeds of any sale. A company that will buy your property for a quick cash sale is unlikely to be the answer, and not worth the price you’ll pay.  

Further independent and impartial online information is available here: 


Monday 8 April 2019

GLC raises concerns over Local Housing Allowance for private sector tenants in Scotland

On 28 March 2019, representatives of Govan Law Centre gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Social Security Committee alongside Shelter Scotland and Living Rent Edinburgh. A video of of the evidence session is available on the Scottish Parliament's website here. The Official Report of the meeting is available here (opens as a PDF).