The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has launched a 12-week consultation on proposals which it hopes will improve support for anyone facing eviction or possession proceedings.
The Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS) already offers free ‘on the day’ legal advice to anyone facing possession proceedings, regardless of their circumstances. The scheme includes face to face legal advice and advocacy in court. The service is provided by contracted legal aid providers in England and Wales on an area basis.
The MoJ recognises that some form of representation is available for a small number of individuals facing possession proceedings. However, the current system is believed to be unsustainable, and an alternative is sought in order to ensure both quality of advice and value for the taxpayer.
The new scheme proposes widening the pool of those who can offer advice, contracting on a per court rather than geographical area basis, and providing a payment for attendance rather than a payment based on how many people are seen and finally a reasonable contribution towards travel costs.
If the scheme goes ahead it may result in an increase in the number of possession claims that are defended. This will no doubt be of some concern for landlords and agents and is a warning to those filing possession proceedings to ensure that all the paperwork is present and correct.