I’ve been awfully busy of late though I am looking forward to doing a lot of posting in the latter half of this year.
My first bat is a little court fun I had over a civil matter, the council bureaucrats just don’t like to answer requests for clarification or have their pressumption of legitimacy questioned. The following is an account of the day back in February, round two (proofs) is (apparently) scheduled for the 27th of April.
Supposedly, for an eviction from a West Lothian Council (hereafter the Council) Temp-Tenancy of three years after two wholly and demonstrably unsuitable offers of permanent housing.
Let’s be clear, this is about me not doing as I was told, not settling for something just to tick bureaucrats checkbox and conform to a bit of arbitrary local government corporate policy, not even a by-law… Just “do as you are told, because we say so!” I have done nothing wrong, harmed none, it cannot even be argued that I am preventing anyone from excercising a legal ‘right’…
This is all about non-compliance.
The following is from my notes taken during the event, I have done my best to describe what was in effect two and a half hours of conflicting nerves and boredom with a mere ten minutes of relative excitement. My notes were written at the time in the first person with a mind to be used in my sworn declaration (for you yanks that is accepted to have the roughly same weight in Scottish Civil law as an Affidavit) that I will be filing with the Clerk before the next hearing. But that is getting ahead of myself.
As you should be, I was in the lion’s den in plenty of time, at the desk I inquired about THE name, quoting the reference number and finding out which court room I was in. The offer of help from the “Advice Shop” I brushed off with simple thanks, but no thanks. So I waited patiently, watching the blissful sleepers drifting in and all unwittingly to be fleeced, the serial hard case offenders swagger past amongst the suits, black-robed vultures and the occasional policy enforcer wielding a deadly clipboard.
Never was it so clear to me that we really are the informed minority.
In the court I picked my perch in the back corner, readied my little A5 notepad, the pen, checked the phone for the last time and waited some more. The festivities, when they began, were only fifteen minutes late as The Man Acting as The Sheriff (hereafter merely referred to as the Sheriff) wandered in to sit on high. For those out with the land known as Scotland the Sheriff is I believe the equivalent of a county court judge.
Twenty one cases were heard before my turn; three people were granted a decree against them (with expenses awarded) and evicted as I watched. Continuations for the rest who begged leave of the COURT for its mercy. To stave off nerves I took notes on the business before the ‘court’. I caught the clerk eyeing me intently more than a few times but I stayed focused.
It should be noted that on numerous occasions I caught the Clerk of the Court watching me throughout the next couple of hours.
The case number was called.
The name game was played very briefly, “are you Mr InformedMinds?” not wanting to make a fuss I just replied “I am known as that.” A number of eyebrows went up, but nothing was said. I had decided not to accept his oath at this time, I know fine well he would not be able ‘hear’ me in this “court”; instead I had opted to get the matter out of summary causes, the route I viewed as being the least contentious. Let’s be clear, this is a Council opposing me, they have deep pockets and a bevy of petty bureaucrats with grudges that I probably should not have embarrassed quite so much in publicly exposing their fictions. I really did piss them off, how dare I, a lowly peon, dare to ask questions they will not or cannot answer.
The Council Representative made a rather presumptuous opening I thought and could be summed up I’d say in the following:
- The council claims to have served all notices and summonses properly. [Bull-biscuits!]
- That the (alleged) defendants have not engaged in any communication. [Bull-biscuits!]
- That there are no arrears or complaints made against us. [Actually they owe me money!]
- I apparently have refused two “reasonable” offers of housing. [More Bull-biscuits!]
- Thus they desire a decree and expenses for simple repossession. [Cheeky blighters!]
That’s right; their whole attack rests upon ONE (as yet) unsubstantiated claim and process.
I started straight off by moving to remove any controversy, saying that I did not understand the nature and cause of the proceedings as I in fact did not see that I had an argument with the Council. Around me I noticed the sudden change in the court staff, up till now only one case had not been a total turkey shoot for them. I continued, rebutting the absolute bare-faced lie about the lack of engagement.
I asked pointedly. “First off, is the representative of West Lothian Council claiming they were NOT in receipt of a private correspondence between one Caroline Polson, acting in the capacity / Office of Housing Manager and myself, which I will attest to having delivered by hand?” The council representative declined to answer or deny my question though she scribbled furiously on a VERY official and EVER so important looking collection of forms. I did however tell them that I had declined any and all oral communication via telephone. When asked why I merely stated that I was not obliged to do so, instead I had previously demanded that all correspondence was written as I did not trust the Housing Officers to not misinterpret what I said to them. I went on to state that I still, to this day, wanted to talk to the Housing Officers to resolve this fiasco, I just want them to answer my bloody questions and acknowledge my requests for clarification.
I next tackled their assertion about a correct and proper notice / service process being completed. I asked if there was any evidence that I had accepted or was in receipt of these notices or a summons. The Sheriff jumped on that smartly, telling me “that was not required.” I was ready too, countering with, “would not that be an assumption of service and was I obliged to accept that assumption as fact and applicable?” He didn’t want to touch that one for some reason, can’t think why… The Sheriff held up a stack of stapled paper and began speaking about a summons. “What summons?” I asked. “This summons,” he said with gesturing with the stack of paper. “I see no summons,” I replied. His face was priceless and though I was too focused to look about, I knew every eye was on me.
To add insult to injury for the Council I then went on to voice my grave concerns about the alleged service Notice to Quit (supposedly served on the eleventh of July 2011). The nice lassie (acting in the capacity of a Housing Officer) did assert that I would denied a right to appeal a “decision” unless I accepted their envelope purported to contain both a notice and a letter which she claimed gave me a “right” to appeal. As yet, I informed them, I have not seen any evidence of this decision upon which they claim to have had the right to issue a Notice to Quit despite my numerous queries. Yet again there was no comment from the Council representative but for more furious scribbling. I continued, demanding that I see this decision; I had to be certain the Council had taken into account all the factors which had been presented to them, which I outlined to him briefly. I insisted that The Sheriff had an incomplete understanding, as the Council had failed to provide any substantiation to their claims. I was a bit surprised when the Sheriff actually openly admitted he had no knowledge of the Council’s decision made against myself.
I pressed on, demanding to know who was to benefit from these proceedings; I stated I was not a lawyer but that I set great store in my own common sense which told me that this nonsense was a waste of everybody’s time. Nothing would be changed by the Councils attack upon me and my family save but to our detriment, the Council’s liabilities remained the same as our housing requirements and situation would be unchanged. The Council representative again said nothing.
We moved on to address the Council’s primary claim that I had “refused” their “reasonable” offers. “What evidence is there that I refused anything?” I asked the Sheriff, which was met with more static. When asked what my opinion was, I was quite happy to respond (though I did consider staying silent) by repeating what was already in writing to the Council. THEIR legislation states suitable, not reasonable which seemed to me to be a compromise, made suitable by agreement. The offered properties were by their own Allocations policy not “suitable or fit for purpose” based on our family and circumstances, all this I stated had been communicated to and as yet unrebutted by the Council. The Council representative again declined to comment it seems.
The Sheriff made an attempt here to accepting their adversarial system by asking me if that was the defence I would be submitting. “That depends”, I responded, “I have not yet been persuaded that there was a controversy upon which to defend.” He tried a few times more though I fended them off.
Talk about putting a cat amongst the pigeons, eh? This at last spurred the Council representative in to action. She pounced, demanding that the Court require “Mr InformedMinds” enter a written defence (which of course would serve to validate the controversy they wish be adjudicated upon). This was to become quite comical because the Sheriff start to say that someone representing themselves would not normally be required to do so, then he stopped and instead asked me if I would be “willing” to do so.
My sole concession to considering his offer was an “hmmm.” I quickly corrected the Sheriff on his error, informing him that I was not representing anything, that I am presenting myself and liable for any and all of my actions and obligations before I told him no, I would not be willing… Though I would however be entering a Sworn Declaration under penalty of perjury to attest to the facts as I knew them.
That seemed to throw him a bit and he quickly assured me that “would not be necessary“. I responded with, “maybe not, but it was what he was going to get.” Neither the Sheriff nor the Council representative made any further issue of this, instead moving on to “require” me AND my wife to make an appearance for a full hearing for Proofs. I rejected out of hand that my wife be subjected to the strain of these proceedings. I stated that my wife was of delicate sensibilities and as I have her complete trust and authority to act in her stead. I was asked if that could be provided in writing, I declared it could. I pressed on asking was she in any way obliged to be present. The Sheriff then affirmed that she would not.
Finally the Sheriff asked if I would be “willing” to appear on the 27th of April 2012, I agreed that I would, but that it would be under threat and duress. I stood up smartly, turned, never looked back and paused only briefly to collect documentation from a Clerk. The looks though on the sheeple waiting to be fleeced said it all, “what in the hell just happened there?”