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Judges hold fire on council evictions after family victory

SOME judges are refusing to grant eviction orders against troublesome local authority tenants, Dublin City Council has revealed.

The judges have taken the stance following a legal challenge to the council's powers to remove the problematic householders.

As a result of the challenge, a "legal uncertainty" has been created around Section 62 of the Housing Act, a city council report stated.

The section allows local authorities to take eviction proceedings against their tenants.

The city council added that "some judges are not prepared to make a decision while that legal uncertainty remains".

However, many other judges have not taken this position as warrants for possession "continue to be granted by the courts", the report stated. The matter will be discussed at the Dublin City Joint Policing Committee on February 1 (Monday).

In November, 2008, the High Court found that Section 62 was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights Act.





Appeal

It ruled that the provision breached Article 6 and 8 of the convention. The decision is on appeal to the Supreme Court, the council stated.

Despite the ruling, Section 62 "still remains a valid and subsisting law", it added.

"However, the whole question of the appeal to the Supreme Court does create an uncertainty that did not exist heretofore," the report stated.

Last October, a Dublin family was awarded €40,000 in compensation after winning a High Court action against an order for their eviction.

The High Court had previously found the rights of Carol and Laurence Pullen of Donnycarney had been breached because the city council had failed to grant them an independent hearing. The case arose after the council obtained an eviction notice against the Pullens under Section 62.

The council alleged anti-social behaviour, a claim denied by the Pullens.



DENIED

Under Section 62, the official does not have to give any other reason and there is no hearing into the facts.

The family had denied antisocial behaviour and claimed they were in fact victims of attacks which drove them from their home. Ms Justice Mary Irvine made an award of €20,000 to each of the Pullens.

The judge said the court must proceed on the assumption the plaintiffs were not guilty of antisocial behaviour as that finding was made in breach of their rights.

comurphy@herald.ie


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