20 December, 2016
The recent Court of Appeal decision in the case of Cardiff County Council v Lee held that the Court's permission is required to issue a warrant for possession on a Suspended Possession Order ('SPO').
Previous process to request a warrant
The usual process of seeking enforcement of an SPO involved completing Form N325 and paying the Court fee of £121. It has always been thought that in most straightforward cases, the Court's permission was not needed to issue a warrant on an SPO. This is because CPR rule 83.26 states that "An application for a warrant of possession … may be made without notice" (i.e. without notifying the tenant).
However in Cardiff CC v Lee, the Court held that the changes to the Civil Procedure Rules in 2014 introduced a new requirement at rule 83.2(3)(e) that the Court's permission to issue a warrant must be obtained first if "under the judgment or order, any person is entitled to a remedy subject to the fulfilment of any condition, and it is alleged that the condition has been fulfilled".
New Form N325A
In Cardiff CC v Lee, the Court of Appeal indicated that the Civil Procedure Rule Committee should consider the wording on Form N325. The Rule Committee will be consulting in the new year on the current rules and the safeguards available to tenants and occupiers.
In the interim, HMCTS have introduced Form N325A which must be used to make a request for a warrant where a possession order has been made and is suspended on payment of monies in respect of rent or mortgage, and the terms are breached. For reissue of a warrant, Form N445 (as amended) must be used.
In both instances, a rent statement of the payments due must be attached to Form N325A and N445 (as amended). The request will be considered by the District Judge and if it is determined that the warrant can be issued, an order will be drawn up and the warrant issued.
If the claim is proceeding through PCOL, the request must be made on paper along with the usual Court fee to the appropriate County Court hearing centre. The warrant will then be issued through PCOL.
Non- rent cases
The new forms should only be used where the possession order has been suspended on rent terms and those terms have been breached. Where an order has been suspended on other non-rent terms such as compliance with ASB clauses of the tenancy agreement and those terms have been breached, then an application to Court must be made via form N244. For further information in relation to applications for permission please see our briefing note dated 2 November 2016.
Please contact Lara Geldard by email or call 01772 220389.