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JusticeNet helps client with long-running tenancy dispute

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When David approached the Self-Representation Service he was unemployed and had no assets. He had been involved in a long-running dispute with his former landlord arising from his eviction from a commercial property in 1999. He had limited formal education and he presented to the service with his trousers held up with a piece of string. It might have been easy to dismiss David as a ‘nuisance’ and vexatious-type litigant. However, careful examination of his case suggested that he had legitimate reason for feeling aggrieved.

Following his eviction in 1999, David had brought proceedings in the District Court but they were eventually dismissed for want of prosecution after David was unable to pay security for costs. The landlord bankrupted him based on a costs order debt arising from part of the District Court proceedings. David unsuccessfully appealed various aspects of the District Court proceedings and the first sequestration order.

David came to JusticeNet in 2016 when, only shortly after his first bankruptcy was discharged, the landlord applied to bankrupt him again using costs orders that had been made over 3 years earlier.

The Self-Representation Service helped David to oppose the Creditor’s Petition on the grounds that the it was an abuse of process and was being used for a collateral purpose (to thwart David’s proceedings in the State Courts, which the trustee in bankruptcy would likely discontinue) and not as a bona fide debt collection process.

JusticeNet’s Self-Representation Service and Pro Bono Referral Service worked to obtain pro bono representation for David to argue his application in court. Unfortunately, a last minute issue prevented the pro bono lawyer from acting. Fortunately, the lawyer had prepared submissions for David based on detailed research and instructions from the Self-Representation Service. The submissions were served on the landlord, who promptly withdrew the Creditor’s Petition.

First published 26 Apr 2016
Image credit: Timothy Eberly

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