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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I have to serve a local authority with a notice to repair a

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I have to serve a local authority with a notice to repair a unique access route to a social housing project, a route the council abandoned. In their own admission, an unusual situation. Route not adopted. but only access and exist for previously council, now housing association accomodation.
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: Formal complaint submitted 30/11/21.
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: Final response received 15/01/ 21. Went to Ombudsman. 27/01/21. Received draft decision. 28/04/21. Not sure how to proceed.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: Is this service free?

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer. I will be the lawyer working with you today.
Sorry to hear of the issue. I will set out my written answer shortly.

In terms of how to proceed you are looking at court action as a last resort. You mention that you have escalated your complaint to the Ombudsman - this would be to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). And I presume their draft decision does not uphold your complaint to the local authority?.

Luckily, there is a legal remedy available against a council with it being a public body. You can issue "Judicial Review" proceedings which is where you involve the court, and a senior judge or panel of judges looks the legality of the local authority's decision. If the judge(s) find in your favour, they will make an order which is binding on the public body (e.g. they may say the public body’s decision was invalid) and they are then forced to act to sort the problem out. Further, if your human rights were breached then compensation may also be payable.

The issue with judicial review is that the cases are quite complex, but as a result of that, a law firm can usually recover their legal costs from the local authority if they win the application. You would be offered a no win no fee agreement with the law firm, to sue the local authority, which is the only option you have assuming the Ombudsman has not upheld your complaint. If they do not offer a no win no fee agreement, if you are in receipt of means tested benefits then legal aid may well be available to you. We cannot act as JustAnswer is an internet forum and not a law firm - we can only give information and guidance from a legal standpoint.

Here are a few firms who specialise in this area :

I hope this helps - please feel free to ask me anything else.

I hope this helps and answers the question - my goal is to ensure you are happy with the answer and have the information you need. If you have any follow up questions then please let me know. I will reply as soon as I can to help with any further queries.

Many thanks,
Jim

Please let me know if the answer helped or if you need me to cover anything else?. I am happy to clarify the answer or if you have any follow up questions. If so, I’d be grateful if you would let me know. I am free most days, including weekends, so feel free to ask me anything you are unsure of.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
I have a draft response from the Ombudsman. In it he says that the response is subject to my comments. What could possibly change his mind to investigate? The line he has taken is that we have recourse to the court in our case and therefore it is not within their remit. It is not that he has or has not found in our favour. Would I be wasting my time to respond to the Ombudsman?

You may be, yes. They probably wouldn't change their opinion even if you reply with your comments. The Ombudsman's job is to ensure the council's decision is correct and fair. So I am not sure why they are taking this stance. Any of those law firms I mentioned would be able to pursue court action.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Initially I must serve the local authority with a notice to carry out the work. What format should this take. I understand I can do this as a citizen and do not need legal representation or a solicitor to do this for me?

You would need a solicitor, yes. It's beyond the remit of this site but happy to answer any more questions regarding judicial review of the local authority's decision.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Ok, thank you.

My pleasure, thanks

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
I was struggling to find a legal representative that specialises in this area. Your answer has clarified what I need to do.

Thank you, ***** ***** say any of those mentioned would be able to assist.
Have a good day.
Jim

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Just reading up on judicial review. Says 3 month deadline from decision. We are past that now since we went to the Ombudsman and it took over 3 months. Does that mean we cannot continue with a judicial review?

The court has discretion to extend it given the fact the Ombudsman took that amount of time, yes. The law firm will need to make an application to extend it.

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