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Permission required to issue Warrants for Possession

The Court of Appeal has now decided the appeal in Cardiff County Court v Lee (Flowers) – an important case on the question of how Warrants for Possession in suspended possession cases can be enforced.

The position in relation to County Court warrants has long been established. Since Leicester City Council v Aldwinckle [1992] a distinction has existed between the need to apply for notice and leave in a High Court writ for possession and its absence in the County Court.
The decision in Cardiff County Council  Lee (Flowers) changes things dramatically for landlords wanting to issue a warrant on the breach of a suspended possession order made on terms. Heard on 19 October 2016, the Court of Appeal determined that landlords should apply for permission to enforce a suspended possession order and can no longer simply issue form N325.
The requirements of CPR 83.2 now state that where an Order is suspended on terms and breach of those terms is alleged, permission must be sought to enforce the Order.  This requires the landlord to issue an application – and pay the associated Court fee – setting out evidence of the breach relied upon and seeing the Court’s authority to issue the Warrant.
The case confirmed that breach of a requirement to seek permission could be remedied by the Court under CPR 3.10 (and that remedy was approved in this particular case) but that will only be applicable where the circumstances justify that.
Landlords whose Warrant applications have been held up pending the outcome of this appeal may be pleased with the outcome of this case and seek to use CPR 3.10.
The Court of Appeal did however note in their judgment that social landlords should amend their internal procedures to ensure that cases where permission was required would be flagged up so that form N325 was not used where an application should be made. The use of CPR 3.10 to “cure” procedural defects cannot be relied upon to save landlords who do not follow the requirements and may lead to lengthy and expensive appeals.