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Eviction courts still not ready for Section 21 ban, says top lawyer

david smith eviction courts

A top property lawyer is adamant the courts won’t be able to handle a two-fold increase in possession actions when Section 21 is abolished - as Labour has promised to do 'on day one' following its lilkely election win.

JMW’s David Smith (main image) says the system is already barely coping, with bailiff appointments being listed up to 12 months after hearings.

“If you take Section 21 out of the equation there’s approximately the same number of standard possession matters going to court hearings as accelerated possession matters,” he tells Christopher Watkin’s YouTube channel.

“In principle…you’ll come close to doubling the number of possession actions which will have to be heard by a judge rather than pushed through paperwork, so a court system in some difficulty will have twice as many actual hearings - which it cannot do.”

Although Smith says more funding for the courts is vital to improve aging technology, a massive shortage of judges and poor court buildings, he suggests the county court system could be privatised in the same way as the High Court sheriff system. Landlords could then pay a fee but would spend less time waiting for a possession order to be enforced.


“A lot of property tribunal judges could hear county court cases,” he adds, “and we could improve the quality of the computer systems so people could process more of their own paperwork to take pressure off court staff.”

Legal aid funding could be improved too, believes Smith, as having more tenants represented in court would mean more issues are dealt with at first instance rather than immediately before a tenant manages to suspend an eviction, so the case then needs to be reheard.


Courts and tribunals service