An Appeal Court decision may put the brakes on the Canal & River Trust's attempts to make life increasingly difficult for continuously cruising live-aboard boaters.
It's ruling that Matthew Jones can use part of the Human Rights Act - the right to respect for his home - as defence against C&RT's attempts to remove his boat under a Section 8 action, throws out the Trust's oft repeated claim that it can't be treated as a housing authority.
The Terms and Conditions imposed on boaters by the Canal & River Trust, especially those related to making a 'continuous journey' are likely to become much more likely to be challenged successfully if Matthew Jones now wins his case when it returns to the lower court.
The Community Law Partnership, which took the case to appeal says that Matthew Jones who has been living aboard his boat 'Mrs T', for six years was challenging the lower court's refusal to consider his 'Article 8' human rights as well as challenging the lawfullness of ‘continuous cruising guidance’.
It says: “In 2014 CRT asked for an order dismissing summarily the Appellant’s Article 8 part of his defence. ... The county court judge struck out the Article 8 part of the Appellant’s defence and a high court judge dismissed his appeal. He appealed to the Court of Appeal.”
In the Court of Appeal Lord Justice McCombe stated: “….In my view… the burden of dealing with an Article 8 defence is one that will from time to time, however, have to be shouldered by the court in assessing a defendant’s personal circumstances and in the balancing exercise in weighing those circumstances against the “given” represented by the Respondent’s aims in the proceedings.
“I have made suggestions as to areas in which summary disposal of such defences may be possible. However, I do not consider that the judge was correct in identifying the “burden” of dealing with Article 8 defences as a reason for striking them out summarily.”
The Community Law Partnership says: “This is an extremely important judgement for boat-dwellers. If they raise an arguable Article defence (e.g. due to health problems, need to be near work, needs of children etc) then that should be dealt with at the trial of the matter and not summarily dismissed.”