Following the case of Geoff Mayers—where CRT removed his boat and transported it 200 miles to prevent him gaining access to it—by using Court procedures in an underhand way, it has become necessary to examine those procedures in some detail.
The case of Tony Dunkley shows this tactic in action. CRT filed their claim under a procedure called ‘Part 8‘—no doubt taking advantage that people might easily confuse this with the Section 8 notices. This is an application to the court for a judgement under the assumption that it is undefended. In the case of an abandoned boat or similar it provides a fast track to a judgement and could be seen as appropriate. However, in Tony Dunkley’s case, the vital papers which must be served explaining and enabling the defendent to object to this (ie to tell the Court they wish to mount a defence) were ‘forgotten’ and it was only due to the sharp eyes of his legal team that this subterfuge was noticed enabling Tony to mount a defence. Following the filing of his defence CRT decided they had no chance of winning and have applied to have the case discontinued (albeit still demanding Tony pays for the privilege!).
If this tactic had not been spotted the judgement would have been awarded automatically to CRT with no defence being possible.
If you have court papers served on you it is very important that you look for an application under Part 8 and the information pack that must, legally, accompany it.
Nigel Moore, who was closely involved in the defence of Tony Dunkley, posted this article on the Canalworld forum where he has been instrumental in disseminating much useful legal information.
‘Part 8’ is an alternative court procedure followed by claimants where they say no defence arises, and the court can rubber-stamp the claimant’s request for an Order in the terms they ask for.
In the context of this topic, it is a situation that hopefully would not arise because you will have pre-empted it. From the available evidence, ALL evictions proceedings on the basis of Section 8 are filed as such.
Unless the recipient of a court notice of such a proceeding knows that they must object to the procedure – if they are to be able to file a Defence to the proceedings – the court will take the Claimant’s word for it, and grant the Order they seek. No doubt that, in many instances, this will have been a valid way for the authority to conduct themselves, because there can have been no defence – but we can never know, from the available records.
Knowing the facts involving the process is, however, vital for anyone who believes that they have been targeted wrongly, and wants the chance to argue that. Ordinarily, it is required for any claimant, let alone a Part 8 Claimant, to include with the Court Notice a standard information pack advising the recipient of their rights and obligations, with what they need to do. Unfortunately, many will not find this comprehensible [although the court does a fair job of using plain English], and worse yet, you cannot guarantee that CaRT’s solicitors will not “forget” or “overlook” the need to include the obligatory information pack.
When BW boasted, as they often did [in London at least] of never losing a Section 8 case, it is no surprise then – none of them used to be defended, because no-one knew that they could be! Easy enough to “win” over a hog-tied opponent. The very few recent defended cases which BW/CaRT ‘won’, it needs to be recognised, each contained criticism of the Guidance as then drafted, and/or of the way the authority went about things.
The last of those cases [Mayers] was a significant warning to everyone of the need to take the positive action recommended by the topic’s title. IF you believe that you have done nothing wrong, then the responsibility lies with you to register that claim. Whatever people may fondly imagine, courts are not a venue within which you will necessarily have the opportunity to put your case; strict rules apply.
If you find yourself with your boat licence revoked and you believe that was wrong, you MUST take such action as shows the court that you did all that lies in your power to rectify the situation. The big mistake Mayers made was to goad BW into taking him to court so that he could plead his case and make a public ‘example’ of them – it couldn’t and didn’t happen that way. For so long as you are on their waterway without the relevant consent, there IS no defence against the simple charge that that is the situation – regardless of any reason why you [or even the court for that matter] think that might be unfair.
Remember too, that Tony was lucky. His home mooring was close by, and was outside of the relevant ‘river waterway’, so that he could return there while fighting the case. Even on the ‘bare bones’ of the claim, he had an arguable defence, unlike Mayers. Many will not be in that position.
Forewarned is forearmed.