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incredible but true! 

Christmas came early for alleged trespassers in the case of Benesco Charity Ltd v Kanj decided in December 2011A possession claim was issued against the trespassers and they filed a defence supported by a witness statement, in which they claimed they had a tenancy or a sub-tenancy. The Judge granted a possession order at the first hearing, but the defendants appealed. The High Court allowed their appeal on the basis that a peson is entitled to trial of their defence and the content of the witness statement should not be rejected at a summary stage "unless the evidence is incredible".

what this means for social landlords

Usually, cases against trespassers (sometimes called squatters) can, on the face of it, appear to be very straightforward. This judgment appears to suggest that a trespasser can use a witness statement to try and establish rights and that statement will not be rejected at the first hearing if it contains a point "which is at least arguable".  This seems to hand the defendants a legitimate delaying tactic which could mean trespasser cases head for lengthy and costly trials rather than being dealt with at the first hearing.

need advice?

If you have a potential trespasser case, contact us for help in building up your evidence to try and ensure these cases are dealt with speedily and cost effectively.
For further information please contact Sarah Pearson in the Social Housing group on 023 8085 7002 or email