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In this week's update the team discuss the court fees consultation, a proposal for a dedicated mediation service for residential possession and an announcement for new energy rating schemes for UK offices. With the usual insights from our colleagues around the firm and some positive news.

Court Fees Consultation

At present, there are 2 scales of Court fees in play. One for claims issued in the County Court and a lower scale for claims issued on line through PCOL (possession claims on line) or MCOL (money claims on line). In the case of possession claims, the difference in the fee is £30; in person claims costing £355 to issue and PCOL claims £325.

The MOJ has now begun a consultation which looks at aligning the fees to the higher scale. The consultation is open until 30 December 2020 and can be found here.

Dedicated Mediation Service for Residential Possession

The MOJ has recently given notice of its intention to procure, in conjunction with the MHCLG, a dedicated mediation service for housing possession claims as they progress through court.

A prior information notice was issued on 11 November 2020. This notice acknowledged the 6 month moratorium on residential possession proceedings has created a backlog, estimated at some 40,000 cases. The aims of the mediation service will be "to facilitate settlement without a substantive hearing where possible; promote compromise to the benefit of all parties; sustain tenancies, and; manage capacity in the court system"

The programme is due to start on 11 January 2021 with an initial pilot period of 6 months. Potential providers are due to submit bids by 8 December 2020.

A new energy rating scheme for UK offices has been announced

The Better Buildings Partnership has launched a new scheme, known as NABERS UK, to rate the operational energy efficiency of UK offices. This has come at a crucial time, as the Government's consultation on energy performance disclosure for commercial buildings is expected before the end of the year.

Offices will be given a star rating, between one and six, depending on the measure of their actual energy use. The grade rating can be used to demonstrate whether an office has a net zero carbon trajectory and can prove extremely useful to climate change conscious property investors and occupiers, as well as serving as a solution to the Government's expected energy performance disclosure obligations.

Insight from our colleagues around the firm

Positive news stories

  • Pfizer and BioNTech have approved a vaccine for use next week in the UK. The UK is the first country in the world to approve the coronavirus vaccine and Britain's medicines regulator, the MHRA, confirms the jab is safe to be rolled out and offers up to 95% protection.
  • International charity, WaterAid placed 144 pairs of brightly coloured wellington boots in the garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The charity wanted to highlight the 144 million children, women and men who rely on surface water such as puddles and ponds to drink from.
  • Two otters have found love in lockdown! Harris, an otter from the Cornish Seal Sanctuary has moved to Scarborough to be with an otter called Pumpkin. Sea Life have reported that things are going 'swimmingly'!

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