Getting blood out of a stone

Courts are difficult places to get information out of, and once things start going wrong they can put you in a loop that you’ll never find a way out from. Most County Courts no longer have an office that you can go to with enquiries, without making an appointment, which you can’t make because the office isn’t open ……

On the 27th March 2014 an Interim Possession Order was made by someone at Bow County Court. The first the occupiers knew of this was on the 28th when someone turned up with the front page of the order, and a photo to show that a copy had been posted on the door on the previous day. Maybe, but it hadn’t been left there, and the original hearing papers had not been served.

The order was made to Magic Circle Law Firm Ltd. They are not the registered owners, and having not seen any of their statements it is not known what right they claimed to the property.

The occupiers were a collection of diverse groups, thrown together by today’s difficult conditions, and different people ran off in different directions doing different things and sometimes colliding.

We can’t be sure whether the notice we wrote explaining the invalidity of the IPO was shown to the police, or even if the police tried to enforce the IPO before the occupiers moved out. We also don’t know if the draft defence we wrote for the full possession order hearing was used. The Order made states “The Claim is dismissed”, although an email from the Court says possession was granted. The email also said that one of the occupiers “subsequently issued an application to re-enter the property which was dismissed also, by District Judge Vokes” and that a further application was made on D J Vokes’ advice, which had been given a new claim number, to which we have still to be told of any outcome.

On the 30th April ASS emailed the court asking for copies of the orders and the statement in support of the IPO application, quoting Civil Procedure Rules allowing this for people not party to the case, and stating that there appeared to have been a criminal offence involved.

On the 17th May an email came back stating that a District Judge had been asked and said that we had to identify the documents required (we had) and file either an application or a notice of request with the relevant fee. The DJ agreed that the rules we had referred to (CPR 5.4C) applied.

In the absence of an office to go to talk to, or the court having responded to our query about how much the fees would be, we eventually wrote, asking to be invoiced. The reply came back that “The District Judge has directed” that CPR 5.4 does not apply.

This is similar to a problem we had with a dodgy IPO from Willesden County Court a few years ago, where we just go so worn down by complaints, being told “no, you can’t complain, it was the judge’s decision so you have to appeal” etc, that we ground to a halt.

So, does anyone out there have the energy to help us keep battling away at this, or know a way through this bureaucratic mess?

Josef K