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Appealing Against Fundamentally Flawed Decisions

23rd June 2020 RIAMS

This Upper Tribunal case focuses on a joint appeal from the First-tier Tribunal by the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The First-tier Tribunal had significantly reduced the charges to be imposed by Waltham Forest against two landlords who had failed to properly licence their properties in the district under their selective licensing scheme.

In the first case, between the council and Mr Marshall, the charges had been reduced from £5,000 to £1,500 and in the second, the charges against Mr Ustek had been reduced from £12,000 (with deductions) to £4,000.

In rehearing the case, the Upper Tribunal concluded that the initial decision gave rise to a number of concerns, namely:

  • The First-tier Tribunal paid lip-service to the councils’ civil penalties policy but then paid no further attention to it and did not acknowledge that it was departing from the policy.
  • They failed to consider the need for consistency between offenders and while they did pay lip service to the reasons for financial penalty regime, there is no sign that those reasons had any effect on its own reasoning.
  • The FTT paid little or no regard to the decision taken by the local authority. Had it sought to understand the matrix, it would have seen why the authority reached the conclusion it did.

The Tribunal regarded the FTT’s decision as fundamentally flawed; it was wrong to depart from or to ignore the appellants’ policy for determining the level of financial penalties and the decision in each case was based on inadequate or irrelevant considerations.

In each case, the original penalties, of £5,000 and £12,000 respectively, were reinstated.

You can read a full overview of the case in the Housing Professionals forum on RIAMS Communities, available here.