As the UK’s social housing sector recovers from the initial Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, now is the time to focus on the challenges that may emerge next.
Our experienced mediation solicitors can help you reach a workable outcome and avoid the need for costly and lengthy court proceedings.
The litigation landscape has changed over the last decade, and although mediation is not technically compulsory, the court civil procedure rules and the judiciary strongly encourage parties to seek to settle their disputes through alternative means, such as mediation, at an early stage.
Mediation is a very effective means of resolving disputes: it has a success rate in reaching a binding settlement of around 75-80%. As such, we recommend exploring mediation because as well as saving money, it avoids the disruption of contested court proceedings, as well as potential damage to an organisation’s reputation. In fact, without trying mediation, you may subsequently be criticised by the judge should your case go to court.
Our mediation services
We guide our clients and provide experienced and insightful representation throughout the process of mediation. As part of our deep understanding of the sectors that we serve, we know how damaging internal and external disputes can be in distracting our clients from their key purposes. We have helped our clients to devise solutions in seemingly impossible situations, and we use the strength and depth of our housing sector knowledge to achieve this. Mediation saves management time and money: it is a cost-effective and efficient means to resolve disputes.
We help clients facing serious disputes and manage them in a planned way from the outset, finding alternative and creative solutions to disputes. By using mediation we can help solve disputes such as:
- public procurement disputes;
- workplace issues to address dysfunctional teams, relationship/performance capability issues, and any situation within a social housing organisations that is impacting on effectiveness;
- disputes between a social housing provider and its tenants/customers;
- serious disputes that disrupt a social housing provider and that may have reputational consequences/risks;
- difficulties with suppliers, contractors and other parties; and
- property disputes, such as between a commercial landlord and tenant, or between adjoining owners.
We can also provide training in the correct procedures to implement to be best placed to manage problems when they arise. This helps keep your organisation on track and even allows it to benefit from the lessons that flow from managing disputes.
Outcomes we have achieved when representing our clients in mediation include:
- resolving a dispute for around 15% of the likely costs of continuing the case to trial; and
- resolving a dispute, on behalf of a defendant party, by our client only paying around 13% of the sum claimed.
Provisions within the Housing and Planning Act that remove the need for housing associations (“HAs”) to obtain consent from the Regulator to dispose of social housing (as well as to merge or enter new group structures) come into force on 6 April.
Such freedoms will allow HAs greater flexibility over how they use their assets and, potentially, how they structure their businesses. Our expert panel gathered to discuss the possible opportunities the deregulatory measures offer, together with the likely hurdles. Read the outcome of their discussion here.
Andrew is a Partner in our construction and public procurement team operating within the local government, care and social housing sectors. He is a specialist in helping clients to manage construction
We have been recognised for the work we do
There is no universal approach to regenerating town centres. However, housing must be considered a key part of any regeneration project – providing well-needed new homes and economic growth.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the focus has been on shoring up existing delivery and, where possible, extending arrangements if it is not possible to re-procure.
Covid-19 has resulted, on the whole, in a marked co-operation between contracting authorities and their suppliers as everybody focuses on maintaining delivery as far as possible.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Bresco Services Limited v Michael J Lonsdale .
In the fourth part of our series on contract management pitfalls, we look at the risks arising out of varying the terms of construction contracts.
Social housing providers will routinely have a number of construction projects underway at any one time. It is essential for client teams to understand and avoid key contract management pitfalls.
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