Richard Oulton appeared for the successful respondent in Mannion v Ginty [2012] EWCA Civ 1667. The Court of Appeal emphasised the importance of upholding robust and fair case management decisions made by first-instance judges.

Richard Oulton appeared for the successful respondent in Mannion v Ginty [2012] EWCA Civ 1667. The Court of Appeal emphasised the importance of upholding robust and fair case management decisions made by first-instance judges.

This case involved a dispute over the ownership of a flat in North London occupied by the appellant and her daughter. The flat was rented from the local authority, and in 2002 it was offered to the appellant for sale under the right to buy provisions of the Housing Act 1985 at a substantial discount. The appellant couldn’t afford to pay the purchase price, so the respondent agreed to pay for the flat and to allow the appellant to live there rent free for 3 years, following which title was to be transferred to him. On the expiry of the 3 year period, the appellant refused to transfer the flat, claiming that the purchase price had been gifted to her by the respondent.

The respondent commenced proceedings in the Chancery Division in 2008. There followed a series of procedural defaults on the part of the appellant which eventually led to her defence being struck out, and judgment being entered for the respondent. The appellant’s application for relief from sanctions under CPR 3.9 was dismissed. However, the appellant was given permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the sanction was arguably disproportionate in that it involved an infringement of her Article 6 and Article 8 rights.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. It was in no doubt that the court could strike out a defence compatibly with Article 6. It accepted that Article 8 did require the court to consider the effect of striking out the defence in this case (the appellant would have to move out of the  flat) but pointed out that the judge had clearly had this factor in mind when reaching his decision. Referring to the “appalling delay” throughout the proceedings, Lewison L.J. reiterated the importance of upholding robust but fair case management decisions made by first instance judges, and the need to stop the culture of delay.

The full judgment can be read at: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2012/1667.html