Brief notes on going to court

Brief notes on going to court for possession cases

 

Don’t panic

The worst that can happen is that you will have to move out, and that they will try to make you pay costs. The second of these is very difficult as they don’t know who you are or where you will move next.

 

Prepare yourself

Read through the papers. Check when the court hearing is. There might be two hearing dates to confuse you – one for an “Interim Possession Order” and then one for a full order. Read through all the papers and see if anything is wrong.

Get the papers, and any documents explaining why they are wrong, to ASS as soon as possible. ASS have experience of spotting mistakes and contradictions, and of helping people write defences (as do some other people too).

Read the more detailed Going to Court Notes from ASS.

 

Go along to court

Even if you don’t have a legal argument go along, you never know what might happen. Something might happen to stop the order being made and it’s good to know for sure either way. It is also a chance to talk to the claimant and try to negotiate time and notice of the eviction.

You should not need i.d. to prove who you are in court as this country does not have mandatory i.d.

If your English is not good enough to understand what’s being said, you can ask for an interpreter because you will be at a disadvantage. You would normally have to find your own translator anyway, but it could give you more time to get your defence worked out.

If you have a written defence make 3 copies and make sure the judge and the other side get a copy each, and keep a copy for yourself.. You can “file” your defence at the court office if you have it ready before the date of the hearing, but should then send a copy to the claimant, or try to give it to the usher (the person with the clip-board) outside the courtroom, or finally hand it over to the judge when your hearing is announced. Make notes of what happens and any decisions made by the judge.

 

After the court

If the hearing is for an Interim Possession Order and the court makes the order, the claimant has 48 hours to serve the order on you, and you then have 24 hours to leave or you could be arrested. If the order is not served correctly you may be OK, check with ASS before the hearing so you know what to look for. If the court doesn’t make the IPO there will another hearing for a normal possession order.

If the court makes a normal possession order, the claimant still needs to get a warrant for it to be enforced and get the bailiffs to enforce it. If the owners are throwing money around or have political clout they can get the High Court bailiffs to do it almost immediately. Normally though there is a delay, in London of about 4 weeks. Bailiffs are meant to (and normally do) let you know when they’re coming, but this is advice not law. Calling the court and asking if the warrant has been issued, and if so to talk to the bailiffs can help get an idea of the timescale, but is not guaranteed.

If the court doesn’t make the possession order, there will be another order, either dismissing the claim (you’ve won!) or putting off the decision. Make sure you understand what was ordered, and try to get a written version from the court office after a few days.

Legal & practical advice for squatters and other homeless people