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| 1 minute read

Stay of proceedings for non-court based ADR

On 29 November 2023, the Court of Appeal handed down its decision in Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council [2023] EWCA Civ 1416. 

The background to this case was that Mr Churchill made a complaint that Japanese knotweed was encroaching from the Council’s land onto his own land, causing damage and a loss of value and enjoyment. Mr Churchill did not use the Council’s complaints procedure and issued proceedings. 

In May 2022, the Council’s application for a stay was dismissed on the basis of a passage in Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust [2004] which stated that referring cases to mediation ‘would impose an unacceptable obstruction on their right of access to Court’. The Council argued that it was no longer good law and requested, and was given permission to appeal. 

The case reached the Court of Appeal and judgement was handed down on 29 November 2023 in favour of the Council. The Court of Appeal found that a court could lawfully stay proceedings for the parties to engage in a non-court-based dispute resolution process. This included engaging with the Council’s complaints procedure. 

The Court of Appeal made this decision on the basis that by staying proceedings to engage in non-court-based dispute resolution, this does not harm the Claimant’s right to proceed to a judicial hearing. It should also be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, by settling the dispute fairly, quickly and at reasonable cost.

This case is of particular importance for landlord and tenant disrepair and housing conditions claims as it gives extra emphasis on the need for complaints procedures to be complied with. This will certainly test how robust the internal complaints procedures are for landlords going forward. 

For more information, please contact Charlotte Greatorex.


housing management & property litigation, dispute resolution, boundary disputes, landlords, housing sector, damp and mould, housing management & property litigation brief, litigation, mediation, property management, right of way disputes