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Title: Down and out and denied in London : appropriate and inappropriate dispute processes for homeless applicants
Author: Ng, Patricia Siu Won
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2009
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The principal question addressed in this thesis is: how do the vulnerable homeless people in London fare when they experience problems with their homeless applications? Legal and other discourses on alternative dispute resolution have hitherto given very little attention to the issue of access to justice for homeless people. In addition, the idea of 'appropriate' dispute processing in relation to homeless applicants is a neglected area in the literature and in practice. The present study shows that in London homeless applicants do not fare well when they attempt to claim their potential emergency housing entitlement through the civil justice system for three main reasons. First, the homeless application process itself is complex, and often difficult for people to cope without advice, guidance and sometimes representation. Secondly, the first stage appeal internal review is not an appropriate dispute process for homeless applicants with an unsatisfactory homelessness decision. Thirdly, the use of homelessness mediation by local authorities is potentially a homeless application containment device. The methodology adopted for this study includes the collection and analysis of case studies, the carrying out and assessment of in-depth interviews, an examination of relevant strands of literature, as well as corpus of laws. Not all problems transform into a dispute between homeless applicants and housing authorities. There are several reasons for this, including various problems that accompany homelessness. It would be helpful if the homelessness legislation were to be simplified. Housing law practitioners are only one type of professional from whom homeless applicants seek help. With the deplorable state of legal aid, applicants would be in a better position if they were able to seek redress with minimum advice and guidance and without the help of a representative. Homelessness mediation might enable homeless people to gain greater access to justice provided mediation is made available to all potentially homeless people. However, the core processes of facilitative mediation, as well as the principles of mediation (confidentiality, voluntary participation, fair process, impartiality) would need to be respected in a manner in which they are not at present. This study argues, however, that the interrogatory approach of the ombudsperson in an enhanced scheme as an external reviewer to replace the internal review is the most appropriate match for applicants wishing to review unsatisfactory homelessness decisions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral