I can tell you what the problem is. And it is quite simply that the courts
take a dim view of someone who issue proceedings and then does not turn up in
court, expecting the court to deal with it in their absence. It doesn't matter
where she is living. It is as simple as that. Yes, the court does have the
discretion to deal with it in a claimant's defendant's absence, but that is
usually reserved for a default or summary judgement if a defendant fails to
feature in court.
I am afraid that she is faced with instructing solicitors and paying the
costs. She will not get those costs back even if she wins.
I will also tell you that the courts are very reluctant to enforce this
three times the deposit penalty because it is seen as being a windfall by the
tenant and also seen as being punitive to a landlord. It is a long established
doctrine in English law that civil law is not punitive, but merely puts the
claimant back into the possession they would have been had whatever happened,
not occurred. The best she could hope for. Therefore, is the return of the
The courts also take the view that although legislation changed last year
to make a 30 day period for protecting the deposit mandatory, that even if it
is protected or late, the claimant has suffered no loss and therefore is only
entitled to the return of the deposit and no extra.
If she were asking me the question as to whether she should instigate
proceedings to recover the deposit. I would tell her to go for it but don't
expect to get any more than the normal deposit that she would be entitled to in
any event, unless the landlord has never ever (even at the time of issuing
proceedings) protected the deposit.
I would also tell her that if she was not able to attend court or instruct
solicitors, don't bother wasting the court fee
I appreciate that this is not the answer you wanted, in all probability,
but there is no point in me misleading you.
Can I help further?
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The thread remains open for us to continue this exchange