In Global 100 Ltd v Kyselakova & Ors (transcript here) the court considered the test under CPR 55.8, namely, is the possession claim “genuinely disputed on grounds which appear to be substantial”.
The decision is at county court level and therefore not binding, but the judge, HHJ Luba QC, was one of the best-known housing silks at the Bar and his judgment therefore carries significant interest.
The judge said the threshold in CPR 55.8 was “relatively low”, giving the following reasons:
Conversely, the judge noted the comment of Lewison LJ in the 2016 CA case of Birmingham City Council v. Stephenson (transcript here), that merely filing a defence does not satisfy the test in CPR 55.8. Thus, a possession claim may be summarily decided even if a defence has been filed.
In practice, summary disposal after a defence has been filed is only likely to occur if the possession claim has been brought on mandatory grounds. If the grounds relied upon are discretionary, the court is required to consider whether a possession order would be “reasonable”, and that is a fact-sensitive issue unlikely to be capable of determination on written evidence alone in the course of a short first hearing.