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Armstrong v Ashfield DC [2018] EWCA Civ 873

This case will be a comfort to social landlords with suspended possession orders against those who behave anti-socially.
In 2013, the Ashfield DC obtained a Possession Order against Mr Armstrong on the grounds of anti-social behaviour breaches of his tenancy agreement. The Order provided for possession to be given up by 4 p.m. on 4 July 2013, but that it was not to be enforced so long as Mr Armstrong complied with identified provisions in his Tenancy Agreement. The Possession Order provided that the Order itself was to “discharge” on 4 June 2014.
Ashfield DC issued a Warrant for possession in October 2013 on the basis that Mr Armstrong had breached relevant terms of his tenancy and was therefore in breach of the terms of the Order.
Mr Armstrong applied to suspend the warrant and the matter came before the Court on 25 June 2014. At that hearing, in which Mr Armstrong disputed the allegation of breaches of the tenancy terms, Mr Armstrong took a preliminary point that the Possession Order had already been discharged on 4 June 2014, so that there was no longer any right to possession.
The Circuit Judge rejected that argument and found that he had breached the terms of the suspended order and dismissed the application to suspend the warrant.
Mr Armstrong appealed on the issue of whether the order had already been discharged before the hearing on 25 June 2014 and the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal. The Court found that the obvious intention of the Order was that discharge should only occur if there were no further relevant breaches of the tenancy agreement between the making of the order and 4 June 2014.
Helpfully the Court also determined that in any event if necessary, the Circuit Judge (or the Court of Appeal) could retrospectively extend the date of discharge under CPR 3.1.

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