Client ‘JA’ v Kent police
During 1st Covid lockdown, JA’s landlord saw fit to evict him. This was unlawful in that they did not obtain a warrant for eviction from the court (those involved were the landlord agents and not court bailiffs). Also as was well-known at the time there was a government imposed embargo on evictions as a result of the global pandemic. The landlord appears not to have known this and neither sadly, did the Kent police.
When JA resisted his landlord’s eviction agents attempt to force him out and change the locks police were called and they arrested JA for Affray. Unsurprisingly no further action was taken at the police station. Thanks to Kent police deeming the dispute to be a “civil matter”, JA was homeless for a few days and had to apply to court to get back into his own home.
Two further spurious allegations were made by the landlords’ agents subsequently, which resulted in 2 further arrests. All matters NFA’d.
Kent police have agreed to pay £15k + Mr A’s legal costs.
Duncan Burtwell notes:
Unlawful eviction is a criminal offence. In this case, the eviction was doubly unlawful given the Covid embargo in place at the time. At any time though, landlords cannot seek to evict on the basis of a possession order (as they did in this case). They have to apply to court for a warrant for eviction and that warrant must be exercised by court bailiffs, not landlord goons. Police officers will often seek to fob off victims of unlawful eviction with the claim that it is a “civil matter” and nothing to do with police. That is quite wrong and may often give rise to a civil claim against police in situations where the police are called and they arrest the wrong party as they did here.