A statement released this afternoon by the City Council suggests that reports about the ‘Travellers’ case in Tameside Drive are incorrect.
The case is still pending, says the Council. The Birmingham Mail (and Vale Mail – in a now deleted article) reported the case on its front page today and has given the impression that the case had been concluded by the Law Lords (now the Supreme Court), and that the public will have to foot the £200,000 legal bill. That would now appear to be jumping the gun, as the case is still in the hands of the High Court, says the Council statement. The full statement says: “In November 2008 the House of Lords passed judgment which effectively meant that Birmingham City Council could not evict the Doherty family from the Castle Vale site at present. We were ordered to pay the Doherty’s solicitors costs, which were expended in defending the proceedings. This money will not go to the Doherty family. The House of Lords referred the case back to the High Court for a decision, the case is currently pending.”
The case involves a dispute between the Doherty family – travellers from Ireland who have lived on the site for 19 years – and the City Council. The Council applied to have the travellers evicted, because they wanted to develop the land. The Council also argued that the continued presence of the Doherty family on the site prevented other travellers from using the site, the only official travellers site in Birmingham. The Doherty family have always denied this allegation.
The case has gone right through the courts, to the Law Lords, and now back to the High Court. The Courts have had to decide whether the Doherty family, who have no rights under property law, do have human rights to stay in their homes, having established themselves there for the past 19 years.
It is a difficult case, and one that will have wide-ranging implications for housing associations and councils across the land.
The High Court is taking its time… it’s had the case since 2008 following an appeal by the City Council against an earlier decision in favour of the Doherty family.
The history of the case, in brief, is that the City Council won the case in 2004, but the Doherty family appealed. The Doherty family won their appeal on the grounds that in the original case the law had been applied wrongly. So the Law Lords sent it back to the High Court, and it is now the job of the High Court to decide whether Birmingham Council acted ‘reasonably’ in issuing an eviction order in the first place. The case now depends on the interpretation of ‘reasonableness’.
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