The purpose of this manual is to enable a case worker who need not be a solicitor or specialist to run a disrepair case from start to finish under the supervision of a specialist solicitor. It will outline the steps to be taken and the documents to be used.
Running A Disrepair Case
- Steps To Take
- First contact with client
- Before the first appointment
- First Meeting
- Obtaining a surveyor's report
- The Initial Meeting
The main purposes of the initial meeting are to:
- Arrange for the client to sign the Legal Help Form and Forms of Authorisation
Copy / Scan the client’s document
- Steps To Be Taken Following The Initial Meeting
- Check Legal Aid Eligibility
Once the client has signed the necessary forms the case worker can prepare to start working on the case. Before this can happen though the caseworker needs to be sure that the client is eligible for Legal Aid and has provided adequate proof of income. Until then there remains a risk that the Legal Aid Agency will later refuse to pay for the work carried out on the case because they are not satisfied that the client was eligible for Legal Aid when the Legal Help form was signed.
I will set out a seperate guide for checking Legal Aid Eligibility which will need to be followed in all cases where payment is going to be claimed under the Legal Help Scheme. It is even more important in disrepair cases to ensure that the client is eligible because it may be necessary to instruct a surveyor. This is likely to cost in the region of £1,000.00. These will be a major problem for the organisation if the Legal Aid Agency later refuses to pay this.
- Prepare a Statement of Case
- Prepare an Advice Letter
- Decide which Surveyor to instruct.
At the moment we are using
- Steven Cockram
- Andrew King
- Tom Hopkins
There is no order of preference. Steven Cockram is more experienced and less likely to be available than the other two. Andrew King may be available if Mr Cockram isn’t. If neither of them are available then Tom Hopkins may be.
At this stage there is no need to ask them to act. It is more than likely that the case will settle and we won’t need to instruct them so it is a waste of time asking them to act. If it later turns out that they can’t we can arrange for a different surveyor to act and let the landlord know that our first choice is not available.
- Prepare a Letter of Claim To The Landlord
When preparing the letter of claim include the paragraph with the surveyor details
- Prepare a draft Letter of Instruction To The Surveyor
- Set review dates
- Send Reminder Letter To Landlord after 14 days
If the landlord has not replied to the Letter of Claim within 14 days they should be sent a reminder letter which asks them to acknowledge receipt of the Letter of Claim and confirms that a surveyor will be instructed after a further 14 days.
- Instruct A Surveyor To Inspect The Client’s Home
Where the landlord fails to reply to the Letter of Claim or replies but does not agree to investigate the problem with a view to carrying out works it will be necessary to instruct a surveyor to prepare a report on the conditions at the client’s home.
All that is required at this stage is to update the draft letter to the surveyor which was sent to the landlord with the Letter of Claim. The Letter of Claim itself is sent with the letter to the surveyor as an enclosure.
It is a good idea to ask the surveyor to contact the client directly to arrange the appointment. This avoids the case worker having to spend time passing on messages between the surveyor and the client to arrange the inspection appointment. This can take a lot of time if the first proposed dates is not convenient and further calls have to be made to find a time that suits the client and the surveyor.
The surveyor should be asked to let the caseworker know once the inspection appointment has been made
A copy of the letter which has been sent to the surveyor should be sent to the landlord with a letter confirming that the inspection is going ahead. A further letter should be sent to the landlord once the inspection appointment has been made asking them if they want to send someone to the appointment. A letter should be sent to the client confirming the appointment and that the landlord has been invited to send someone to it.
Set a review date to call the client the day before the inspection to remind them about it.
Set a review date for when the report should be received.
- Steps To Be Taken After Receiving the Surveyor’s Report
Once the surveyors report has been received a copy should be sent to the landlord with a letter asking them to agree to carry out the repairs shown as needed and warning that proceedings will be issued if satisfactory proposals for carrying out the works have not been received within 14 days.
A copy of the letter to the landlord and the report should be sent to the client with a letter updating them and inviting them to contact the case worker to apply for a Legal Funding Certificate if the landlord has not agreed to carry out the necessary works within a further 14 days.
Set a review date to contact the client and apply for a Legal Funding Certificate after a further 14 days. The letter should remind the client of the further proof of income which the Legal Aid Agency will require in support of the application for a Legal Funding Certificate.
- Apply for a Legal Funding Certificate
An application should be prepared on the Legal Aid Agency’s CCMS site for a Legal Funding Certificate. This should be prepared on the telephone
An Emergency Legal Funding Certificate can be applied for on the basis that there is a threat to the client’s health and work can be carried out straightaway towards issuing proceedings.
- Issue Proceedings
The case worker will need to prepare a Particulars of Claim, Claim Form, Injunction Application Form, Witness Statements for the client and any other witnesses and pay the Court fee. These will need to be sent to the Court
Copies of the Court papers should be sent to the landlord with a letter confirming that proceedings have been issued. A copy of that letter and the enclosed documents should be sent to the client with letter confirming that proceedings are being issue and outlining what the Court proceedings will involve.
Set a review date by which time the case worker should have heard back from the Court.
- Diarise The Court Directions
- Prepare For Trial
- Enforcing an Order Requiring The Landlord To Carry Out Repair Works
- Closing The File
Consider also….What to do about claiming damages.