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Putting the Person Back Into Property: An Assessment of the Place of Human Vulnerability Within Mortgagee Possession Claims Against Homes



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Russell, Jennifer 


The overarching aim of this thesis is to provide an account of how the law currently engages with human vulnerability within mortgagee home possession claims. The main body of the thesis is comprised of five chapters. Chapter I explores literature examining vulnerability as a concept, before setting out an analytical framework for thinking about vulnerability which is then used in the legal analysis offered in the following chapters. Chapter II examines the role that the mortgagee’s right to possession has played in both constituting possession-related vulnerabilities and shaping the legal landscape in such a way as to limit arguments premised on vulnerability. It also considers procedure’s potential for opening up argument grounded in vulnerability, comparing the court’s narrow inherent jurisdiction with the Pre-Action Protocol which governs possession claims by lenders. Chapter III moves on to look at the court’s statutory powers to control possession orders, both under section 36 of the Administration of Justice Act and section 129 of the Consumer Act 1974. Chapter IV explores the influence of regulation. It charts the Financial Conduct Authority’s recent work on vulnerability and explores the relationship between this work, lender decision- making and the relevant provisions in the FCA Handbook. Chapter IV also looks at the role vulnerability plays in Financial Ombudsman Service (‘FOS’) complaints about lenders through an analysis of FOS database decisions. Finally, Chapter V considers the scope for human rights and discrimination challenges to make relevant different types of mortgagor vulnerability. Five overarching research questions are answered in the thesis’s conclusions. These questions are: (1) Is vulnerability an expressly used concept? (2) How do legal rules engage with general and individual ideas of vulnerability? (3) What role do particular source(s) of mortgagor vulnerability play within the repossession process? (4) Does the law recognise that mortgagors are vulnerable to different types and degrees of harm? (5) How are arguments about mortgagor vulnerability closed down? The conclusion also reflects upon how mortgage possession law’s overarching approach to vulnerability has changed over time, with the introduction of new legal developments.





Miles, joanna
Goymour, amy
Thornton, rosy


mortgages, possession, vulnerability, land law, homes


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
AHRC (1946457)
Arts and Humanities Research Council (1946457)
Arts and Humanities Research Council