Law firm Hodge Jones & Allen has launched an application for a Group Litigation Order (GLO) to claim compensation against the Peabody Trust on behalf of residents of Strawberry Vale estate in East Finchley. The GLO will allow 49 residents to join the five already bringing a claim against the housing association.
The residents were left for months without a gas supply for cooking and, in some cases, without gas for heating and hot water.
On 20 January 2016 the gas supply to an estimated 240 homes on the estate was cut off because National Grid deemed it to be unsafe due to a faulty meter. The defective meter was replaced but the Peabody Trust were unwilling to reconnect the supply, leaving some residents without hot water or heating. All 270 residents at the Strawberry Vale estate were forced to use electric cookers, an expensive alternative which was unaffordable to the majority of residents, many of whom are pensioners, are on low incomes or receiving benefits.
The Peabody Trust was finally forced to agree to reinstating the gas supply after Hodge Jones & Allen applied to the Central London County Court for an injunction on 19 February 2016. By around May 2016 all residents were reconnected but many had run up considerable debts due to large electricity bills and in some cases had spent thousands of pounds on temporary accommodation.
During legal proceedings it has come to light that the Peabody Trust had been failing to adhere to health and safety regulations relating to the gas supply since 1998 when they took over the running of the estate. The Trust had not obtained a Gas Safety Case in line with regulations that came into force in 1996 and when this was reported to the Health & Safety Executive in March, the Trust was issued with an improvement notice, requiring the necessary changes were made.
Jayesh Kunwardia, partner at Hodge Jones & Allen says:
“We are applying for a Group Litigation Order so that all 54 residents who wish to bring a claim for compensation can do so as part of one legal action. Residents of the Strawberry Vale estate suffered major upset and upheaval as a result of the Trust’s direct failure to reinstate the gas supply for so long. Many incurred considerable additional expenses due to the more expensive electric supply and increased food costs whilst some even moved their families elsewhere due to the lack of hot water or heating.”
“Not only did the Peabody Trust fail to provide a valid reason for the gas supply to hundreds of homes being switched off in the first place, it is now clear that there were historic breaches of Health & Safety Executive (HSE) regulations by running the gas supply at this estate without the correct safety procedures in place.”
Laurence Williamson Chair, Strawberry Vale Residents Association says:
“A landlord responsible for the homes of hundreds of people, from families with young children to elderly people living alone, deprived them of their gas supply, a basic service that they depended on to cook with. Some families were also without heating and hot water and at one point the Red Cross came to the estate with hot meals for residents. This was all during the winter months, affecting vulnerable people’s health and leaving many with considerable debts.”
The Group Litigation Order hearing will take place on 27 October at Central London County Court, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
Notes for Editors
Hodge Jones and Allen
Hodge Jones and Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice.
For almost 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
The firm’s team of specialists have been operating across: Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Industrial Disease, Civil Liberties, Criminal Defence, Court of Protection, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family Law, Military Claims, Serious Fraud, Social Housing, Wills & Probate and Property Disputes.
Co-founder Patrick Allen is still at the helm of the firm he co-founded in 1977.
In 2016 the firm launched Hearing their voices – a campaign to raise awareness and build conversations around the issues and the injustices we might all face.