On Tuesday 17 September, the great and the good of the Housing Law world descended on Hardwicke for the annual Social Housing Conference, this year’s topic being "Vulnerable occupiers and the social landlord".
Chaired by Hardwicke’s very own Dermot O’Leary, Alastair Redpath-Stevens, the day kicked off with the keynote address by DJ Susan Jackson. Being both a District Judge dealing with Housing matters, she also sits as a Court of Protection judge and her insight into the issues from the other side of the bench proved both helpful and interesting. Leaving to continue a 2-day trial, she had the pleasure of seeing none other than Hardwicke’s Andy Lane waiting patiently for her at Court, appearing for the Claimant.
Hardwicke’s Alison Meacher then gave a seminar on the interface between Housing Law and the Court of Protection, an issue that is rapidly arising more and more.
East Thames’ Mairead Carroll took to Twitter to call it “one of the most useful seminars [she] attended this year”.
Delegates got the chance to discuss burning issues and war stories during breakout sessions on the duties of Housing Associations under the Equality Act, hosted by Hyde’s Rakhee Kotecha, Lewis Silkin’s Paul Hayes and Hardwicke’s Leon Glenister and Laura Tweedy.
After a voluminous lunch involving salmon and tofu salad (Hardwicke-style) came the Panel discussion. Helen Tucker, Partner of Anthony Collins, assumed the role of David Dimbleby with ease, while Daniel Skinner (Batchelors), Alev Horgan (Origin Housing), Mairead Carroll, and Arthur Moore (Hardwicke) played the noisy but interesting subjects. What followed was a lively discussion on equality and vulnerable tenants based on questions which had been tweeted (well, some were also handed in on paper notes) throughout the day.
The day ended with two seminars by two highly experienced and respected lawyers. The first by Devonshires’ Partner and chair of SHLA Nick Billingham covered the human rights angle to vulnerable tenant issues. The second was by the Head of the Hardwicke Social Housing Team, Dean Underwood, on his pet subject welfare reform (on which point look out for his soon-to-be-published paper!).
The day can perhaps best be summed up in this way – the seminars, discussion, and delegates were more than a match for expectations set by the high calibre lunch. All left with something more than just the paper in the pack, and feedback included (spot yours!):
"Overall – fab interesting day – thank you!"
"I would stress again how excellent the conference was – best of all the chambers' housing conferences we have been to – relaxed and friendly but also great mix of solicitors and landlords – great!"
"I had a wonderful day and it was a pleasure to be involved."
"Engaging presenters – helpful content and handouts for future reference."
Next year’s conference is already being organised!