Author Topic: Representing a client in court  (Read 548 times)

Offline Mohan

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Representing a client in court
« on: December 14, 2018, 05:05:48 PM »
On 2nd November, I represented a client in Small Claims Court for the first time. I won!

A quick summary of my case at court:

I don’t know how many of you know this but in the small claims court, a person is permitted representation by a layman, that is, someone who does not need to have a law licence. One of my friends, David (some of you may know him), a former Open University student, now a graduate in law, has actually set up a business doing this, for the past 5 years. He encouraged me to do the same.

In fact, the client I represented was referred to me by David because he lived closer to me than to David (David is closer to London, so hours away), and needed some help navigating the murky waters of small claims court.

In short, the client had a leaking roof since 2010. The City Council owned the property then and did not do any effective repairs. In 2016, the client bought the apartment he was living in. It was one apartment, in a building that contained 4 such apartments. The result was that he owned the apartment under a lease for the building, which was still owned by the Council and who was still responsible for repairs to the outside of the apartment where the client lived, including the roof of course.

The leak in the roof continued up to February 2018 this year when the client filed his claim in court, then the Council hastily put down a tar covering on the roof to stop the leak. It wasn’t enough, as by then 8 years of leaks had damaged his apartment to some severity. He was so stressed he had to be medicated and treated for depression and anxiety.

At court, the Council sent a barrister (a lawyer who has rights to present cases before a judge), a solicitor (who researches and prepares the cases for the barrister to present) and a junior lawyer. Plus, the Council’s witness, the person responsible for the computer system that logs the repair calls and passes the jobs to the repair contractors. This witness brought in the call logs for the past 8 years showing that when the tenant (my client) called to get repairs done, he was not at home when the workers turned up. 13 pages of call logs.

But here is the Council’s mistake. The barrister argued first that the tenant, my client, had a responsibility to call the Council to repair the roof. Well, the very fact that there were 13 pages of call logs was like shooting themselves in the head, right? I couldn’t believe a qualified barrister made such an elementary error.

Second, he argued that the tenant/my client should be home to allow access to the roof. I merely pointed out to the judge that the Council’s own witness said in his witness statement that the roof was accessed at least twice using an elevated electrical platform from outside and that at that time the tenant was not at home. So that was another headshot, right? 😊

The result was that the judge agreed that my client had no duty to inform the Council more than he already did, that he was not needed to access the roof and that the statutory law, as well as his lease, made the Council responsible for the repairs. He was awarded £6000, plus costs. 😊

My client is very happy.
Before engaging in a comments fight, make sure your English is better than your opponents'. :D

Offline Gail

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Re: Representing a client in court
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2018, 05:47:59 PM »
Congratulations on your win, well done.

It's a real buzz being a lay rep isn't it? :) I've done it loads of times in various settings, including small claims (and won).

I had a similar problem with my landlord a couple of years ago. For ten years I had been complaining about the joists in the living room and dining room needing fixing as the floors were sinking and it was possible to put your fist through the hole between the floor and the skirting boards.
Decided to inform landlord (gave them one months notice) of intention to stop paying rent until repairs are done, and if repairs were not done by the time the rent had reached enough to pay for the repair, then the repair will get done with that money. Rent was placed in a bank savings account.
It took the landlord 4 months and instead of just fixing the problem they decided to start eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent  :laugh:

Not a chance :)

I avoided having to go to court, and avoided them even starting eviction proceedings, by sending them such a strongly worded email which included threats of counter-suing for around £1,800 for ruined, replaced furniture etc.
They got my letter and within two weeks had stopped all proceedings and finished the repairs. Once the repairs were done to my satisfaction, I paid the rent.

It's a shame that such lengths have to be gone through to get simple repairs done when you have a landlord. Yet they still expect you to pay the rent regardless.