Examples of cases

Below are some examples of cases in which I have acted. Some names have been removed to protect the parties. Most recent at the top.

London Borough of Newham v Homeview Residential Ltd - Thames Magistrates' Court, January 2019

I acted for the Defendant company which lets residential properties to tenants. The prosecution was brought under s.224(3) Town and Country Planning Act 1990 on the basis that the Defendant company had placed advertisement boards on three properties (so three charges) which did not have planning consent or deemed consent. The prosecuting authority claimed that the only boards that could be used by agents outside of a property were those with "For Sale" or "To Let". The authority took exception to the words "Guaranteed Rent" on the Defendant's boards.

Deemed permission is defined in the The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007 No. 783) and in particular Part 1 of Schedule 3 to the regulations defines classes of advertisements which have deemed planning consent. Class 3A covers "An advertisement relating to the sale or letting, for residential, agricultural, industrial or commercial use or for development for such use, of the land or premises on which it is displayed." with certain limitations which were not the basis of the prosecution.

Making a half-time submission of no case to answer I argued that the term "relating to the sale or letting" was so wide as to include (or not preclude) the words used on the Defendant's boards. Moreover, there was no evidence that the Act or the Regulations precluded the wording used or required any specific wording.

The bench took time to consider and took advice from their legal advisor and returned a verdict of no case to answer. The charges were dismissed with the Defendant's costs to be assessed and paid out of central funds.

M v R & A (deceased) - Central London County Court, March 2018

This case involved the same client as an earlier case concerning the owner of a vehicle. The Claimant in this case was the former girlfriend of the deceased. The case was complicated because, first, the court office had erred in permitting a claim against a deceased person to proceed; and second because the 'advocate' on behalf of the Claimant was not legally qualified. After submissions his role was reduced to advisory and the Claimant was required to make her own submissions.

The hearing proceeded as a show-cause hearing whereupon the Claimant was required to show why the matter should not be struck out. The claim against the Second Defendant was struck out but, given the court office error, the judge did not feel it appropriate to do so with the whole claim. The judge gave detailed directions and an unless order and declared that the claim as it stood was misconceived and totally without merit. If the Claimant failed to comply with the directions, she would have to pay the First Defendant's costs. The Claimant sought permission to appeal and was refused.

Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis v M & R - Central London County Court, February 2018

This was a curious case brought by the police in order to get the assistance of the court in determining the ownership of a vehicle seized as part of a murder enquiry. In the event, the sad death was found not to be a murder and the enquiry was concluded but then two parties claimed ownership of the vehicle. I acted for the Second Defendant who was the spouse of the deceased. The First Defendant claimed to have purchased the vehicle shortly before the owner had died and said that he had paid for it in cash.

I successfully argued that as the First Defendant spoke next to no English, and his written witness statement was written in English with no interpreter's certification, his witness evidence should not be admitted relying on Barton v Wright Hassal LLP [2018] UKSC 12. The judge agreed that the witness statement should not be admitted and that there were no special rules in favour of litigants in person, as the First Defendant claimed to be.

After hearing evidence, the judge was critical of both Defendants but came down on the side of the Second Defendant because her case was supported by a document issued by the DVLA whereas the First Defendant, who claimed to have been a car dealer, had kept no or no proper records and had done nothing to confirm the identity of the seller of the vehicle or to obtain correct documentation. Declaratory relief was granted and the First Defendant was ordered to pay the Second Defendant's costs.

H & S v R & R - Oxford County Court, February 2018

This was a claim for specific performance following a dispute which arose over a dog-breeding contract. Amongst other things, there were two different contracts, one signed by the Claimants only and the other signed by the Defendants only. Neither was professionally prepared but, needless to say, the terms of the contract signed only by the Defendants fully supported their case. I acted for the Claimants under the Bar Public Access Scheme. I originally advised the clients on merits and procedure and they served a letter before action and filed the claim themselves and dealt with the court under my advice.

Sadly the progress of the claim was hampered by a significant mis-understanding in the court office about whether a claim for specific performance could be filed at the county court under Part 7 of the CPR. This caused a delay of some weeks before the claim was issued. The Defendants did everything at the last minute and threatened to counter-claim in defamation should the claim proceed.

At court, the Defendants failed to attend but instructed counsel, again at the last minute. The trial, in the event, lasted most of the day after a late start due to Defendants' counsel attending late. The Claimants were cross-examined intensively by counsel for the Defendants but nevertheless the judge found that he preferred the evidence of the Claimants and that he had doubts about the copy of the contract submitted by the Defendants and only signed by them. The Claimants succeeded and also secured recovery of some of their costs (fixed costs under the Small Claims Track rules) but their main objective which was an order for specific performance was achieved.

Elleray v Bourne & Hanning - Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), December 2017

I acted for the Respondents in this action brought by a purchaser of a Park Home. The claim failed at the First Tier Tribunal but the Applicant sought to appeal and the appeal was heard by the Deputy President of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). Judgment has been published on BAILII here.

This dispute revolved around the calculation of commission to be paid to the site owner when a Park Home is sold or transferred. In this case the Park Home was sold to the Applicant by the Respondents who were acting as executrices of the estate of their late father. The site owner claimed that the commission (which is not specified but cannot exceed 10% of the purchase price by law) should be calculated "out of the sale price" whereas the Respondents contended that 10% "of the sale price" meant that the sale price had to have 10% added to it to make up the purchase monies.

The difference between these figures amounts to about 10% of the commission value (roughly speaking) so if the site manager was correct then he would be expecting his commission figure to increase by approximately 10% over the figure that he was paid.

The Upper Tribunal found that while the FTT had erred in some respects, the appeal should be dismissed. It also found that the regulations and other documentation was very confusing and recommended that these be tidied up.

TM & SM v SB & DC (as Trustee in Bankruptcy for SB) - High Court, November 2017

I acted for the Second Respondent, Trustee in Bankruptcy for the First Respondent. The First Claimant appealed the decision of the Circuit Judge at the Central London County Court (October 2016 - see below) on several grounds. The original trial had been heard in October 2016 over three days with judgment being handed down at the end of that week. The judgment was thoroughly in favour of the Trustee's position and finding that the evidence of the Claimants and of the First Defendant had been unreliable.

The Grounds of Appeal, originally advanced on behalf of both Claimants but only pursued by the First Claimant, complained that the judge had misdirected himself on the evidence and on the law although these were very unspecific allegations. Considerable delay was added to the appeal because the County Court at Central London took from 28.10.16 to 10.03.17 to produce a sealed order despite an agreed note of order having been filed by counsel on the day when judgment was handed down.

Following oral argument on 17.11.17 the judge in the High Court handed down a detailed judgment on 30.11.17 in which he agreed wholly with the arguments advanced on behalf of the Trustee, in particular that the Appellant should have produced a transcript of the proceedings, rather than just of the judgment, if he was to pursue complaints about the judge's approach to evidence. That said the judge, Mr Justice Warren, found that he could not accept that the judge below had made any error of law or had misdirected himself on the evidence and refused permission to appeal. That should end the matter.

A Taxi Company v A Cyclist - Central London County Court, November 2017

I acted for the Defendant cyclist at short notice in a case which was listed for a Fast Track trial. In fact the Claimant had made an application to strike out the Defendant's defence and for summary judgment to be dealt with as a preliminary issue.

The case arose from an incident in the early hours of the morning when the cyclist had crossed the path of the taxi and the two had collided, leaving the cyclist in hospital with significant injuries and the taxi with a damaged bonnet and windscreen.

Surprisingly the cyclist did not sue the taxi company but, rather, did his best to return to work and carry on with his life. Eventually the taxi company decided to sue the cyclist for the damage to their taxi. So the Claimant was the taxi company even though the most significant injuries were to the Defendant cyclist. The cyclist was originally sued in the Bulk Centre but the claim was not properly served as his address had changed. Judgment was entered and later set aside. The claim was reinstated in the County Court and the Defendant counter-claimed for his injuries.

The evidence from the in-cab video camera showed that the taxi was travelling at 26-27mph and it was accepted that the speed limit in force was 20mph.

I prepared a detailed skeleton argument dealing with the application to strike out. The application was made very late in the day and on a somewhat spurious basis. There were some minor difficulties with the medical evidence but the Claimant was not, she found, prejudiced by them. The judge decided having read my skeleton argument that she was not going to entertain the application. It would be dismissed. I successfully argued that the trial today should be limited to liability, as the Defendant cyclist was still suffering with his injuries and the medical evidence was therefore incomplete.

After hearing evidence from the Defendant, the Claimant's taxi driver not attending, the judge heard arguments and concluded in a detailed judgment that in her view, while it was clear that the taxi was breaking the speed limit, the taxi nevertheless had the right of way on the road on which he was travelling. The cyclist crossed his path and could have waited. She determined that the cylclst was 70% responsible for the collision. She awarded damages to the taxi company (which had submitted repair invoices) but adjourned consideration of damages for the cyclist for new medical evidence to be produced.

After the trial, new medical evidence was produced dealing with the remaining injuries and I was instructed to prepare an advice on quantum. The matter of quantum was later settled out of court between the parties.

C v B - Possession Claim - Lambeth County Court, May 2017

I acted for the Defendant in the second hearing of this possession claim. The claim had initially commenced under s.21 Housing Act 1988 with the landlord seeking rent arrears and possession of the property. The Defendant issued a defence and counterclaim alleging fundamental breach of the tenancy agreement by the landlord, that the rent had been over-paid due to a specific clause in the tenancy agreement and some disrepair. The Claimant was granted permission to re-plead and the revised claim was to proceed under the accelerated possession rules (the claim for arrears had been dropped) and was therefore not dependent on the success or otherwise of the counterclaim.

I argued that there was an error in the service of the s.21 notice which meant that it was invalid. Specifically the Claimant said that the s.21 notice had been served "by delivering it or leaving it at a permitted place". The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR r. 6.26) provide that when this method of service is used the document is deemed to be served on the same day as it is left if that happens before 16:30 or the next business day if it is left after that time. Solicitors acting for the Claimant had omitted to put the time of service on the certificate and therefore the court had to give the Defendant the benefit of the doubt given the draconian effect of s.21 and therefore the document was deemed served on the following Monday. As a result, the Defendant had been given less than the statutory two months' notice and the notice was invalid. The Claim was struck out.

There is a lesson for practitioners in this case as the N215 Certificate of Service form does not contain provision for the time of service using this method. It was always open to the Claimant's solicitors to add the time in manuscript on the form but they failed to do so.

The counterclaim proceeds.

TM & SM v SB & DC (Trustee in Bankruptcy of SB) - Multi-track Trial - Central London County Court, October 2016

This case started in 2014 with the Trustee seeking an Order for Possession and Sale of a house registered in SB's sole name. That action succeeded but, later, TM, SB's husband, and SM, their adult daughter, started a claim under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (ToLaATA) for the Court to determine the share of beneficial interest in the property, and a second property which was let to tenants but also vested in the Trustee. TM and SM between them claimed 100% of the beneficial interest in both properties.

I was instructed by solicitors acting for the Trustee in Bankruptcy throughout these proceedings, from drafting the original Order for Possession and Sale pleadings through an Appeal to the High Court and the final ToLaATA multi-track trial. During the interim it was also necessary to deal with an application to court associated with the Trustee's fees.

Trial took three days in late October 2016 with judgment taking half a day at the end of the week. In his judgment, given extempore, which ran to 19 pages of notes, the judge found that SB had not told the truth when she had told the court under oath that when completing an enquiry form in the presence of an Official Receiver examiner, she had been instructed or coerced to complete the form inaccurately. Moreover, she had not mentioned this matter in her witness statements and the judge was satisfied that she did not do so as otherwise the examiner would have been called to give evidence on the matter. The judge also found that evidence given by SB was untrue in parts and that she had effectively written witness statements for TM.

In his evidence TM concluded by asserting that all of the money in the relationship and all of the property was his, an entirely unsustainable proposition on the facts.

SB had said that she earned very little when the properties were purchased and TM was the breadwinner. This was contradicted by mortgage applications completed in SB's name in which she had raised £350k of loan capital within the space of ten months, in which she was stated to be a beautician earning between £43k and £49k per year, supported by several years' accounts.

SB and TM alleged that the mortgage broker had falsified these accounts and had similarly falsified information on the mortgage applications in order to produce greater commission for himself. The judge found that TM and SB were lying about this.

The judge also noted selective disclosure of financial information by or on behalf of TM. He found that TM was not the sole contributor to the mortgage as, had that been the case the lender would have required his name to be on the mortgages and to be on the title, which was not the case for any of the mortgages or for either property.

He further noted that an attempt to seize possession of the second property, a buy-to-let flat, through an unidentified third party, was a deliberate attempt by SB to obtain possession of that property from under the nose of the Trustee in Bankruptcy.

Following the principles in Jones v Kernott [2011] UKSC 51 the judge said that the sole question for him to determine was whether there was a common intention between the parties at the time of the purchase of each property as to the share. The judge went through the evidence in detail including changes attempted to be made to the evidence during the course of the trial.

The judge concluded that there was no evidence of any agreement or intention that either Claimant had any beneficial interest in either property and the Claims were dismissed.

Permission to the Claimants to appeal this matter was refused by Warren J in the High Court on 30th November 2017 following a hearing on 16th November 2017.

School 2 Ltd v Parents - Small Claims Track trial - Hammersmith County Court, December 2015

In this action the parents had their daughter educated at a school run by School 1 Ltd. The school sent letters to parents at the beginning of the Spring term setting out financial difficulties and that closure was contemplated. The parents, fearful for their daughter's education, accepted assistance from the school and transferred the daughter to a new school. The school assets were acquired by School 2 Ltd and that school sued for fees for the Spring term and also for fees for the Summer term in lieu of notice.

The matter was protracted by judgment having been entered in default at an early stage and School 2 Ltd having commenced enforcement action by way of insolvency proceedings immediately thereafter. Acting on a public access basis, I applied to set aside the judgment and then to defend the claim.

At trial the Deputy District Judge found that a) there had been a repudiatory breach of contract by School 1 Ltd which breach was accepted by the parents when they transferred their daughter to another school with the assistance of the headmistress; and b) that in any event School 2 Ltd had no title to sue .

Furthermore the Deputy District Judge found that there had been an element of unreasonable behaviour by the Claimant and on that basis ordered School 2 Ltd to pay part of the Defendants' costs of defending the action.

S v M - Multi-Track Claim - Woolwich County Court, October and December 2014

I acted for the Defendant landlord in a claim by his tenant for the court to declare that he had a beneficial interest in the property. The Landlord maintained that there were significant arrears of rent. The Claimant claimed that the Defendant had agreed to sell the property to him informally and with an off-the-books 'mortgage' and that he had paid significant sums of money in reliance on this. At a pre-trial review hearing I pointed out that the evidence relied upon did not show any payments to the Defendant landlord from the Claimant but, rather, showed that the payments relied upon went to an unknown third party. The claim was struck out after a short delay for the Claimant to obtain new evidence, which he failed to do.

Prior to the adjournment the parties were invited to make any consequential applications. The Defendant applied for summary judgment/strike-out of the claim and in the alternative security for costs. The Claimant, on the other hand, applied for more time, which additional time had been exceeded six-fold by the time that the matter returned to court. The District Judge said that the claim was badly pleaded and the Claimant's solicitors had abused the court's process. Claim struck out with Claimant to pay Defendant's costs to be assessed if not agreed.

Freeholder v A Leaseholder - Appeal - Kingston-upon-Thames County Court, November 2013 and January 2014

In the original action the Claimant had obtained judgment against the Defendant for arrears of ground rent and service charges. I successfully argued for permission to appeal out of time in this matter where the grounds of appeal were that a) the Deputy District Judge had erred in limiting the rate of interest payable under s.69 County Courts Act 1984 by failing to give a reason or justification for doing so; and b) that the Deputy District Judge had also erred by failing to consider the Claimant's contractual entitlement to costs as provided for in the lease as the action was clearly in contemplation or preparation of the service of a notice under s,146 Law of Property Act 1925 following the decision of the Court of Appeal in Freeholders of 69 Marina, St. Leonards-on-Sea v Oram & Ghoorun [2011] EWCA Civ 1258. The Court should not have interfered with the contractual entitlement to costs following the decision of the Court of Appeal in Gomba Holdings (U.K. Ltd and others v Minories Finance Ltd and others (No. 2) [1993] CH. 171 by analogy.

Held: On the appeal - the appeal was allowed on both grounds. The Deputy District Judge had erred in reducing the rate of interest awarded pursuant to s.69 County Courts Act 1984 as there was no established practice to justify doing so; and b) the Deputy District Judge was wrong to consider the terms of the lease to be ambiguous. The action was clearly one made in contemplation of or preparatory to service of a notice under s.146 Law of Property Act 1925 and the Claimant should have been awarded costs pursuant to the lease.

A Builder v A Householder - Small Claims Trial - Wandsworth County Court, January 2014

I acted for the Defendant who had a counterclaim to the builder's claim for an unpaid invoice. However, the Claimant had failed to file any evidence to support his claim nor a defence to the counterclaim. Following the decision in Andrew Mitchell MP v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1537 the District Judge agreed with my submissions that the Claim should stand struck out and the matter proceed on the counterclaim alone. Judgment was duly entered for the Defendant on the Counterclaim after the Claimant acting in person had spent a considerable time with the unenviable task of cross-examining the Defendant on the counterclaim whilst not advancing a positive case (as the Claim had been struck out and no defence to counterclaim had been entered). The judge found that the standard and quality of workmanship had breached the implied term under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

A Company v A Customer - Application for Relief from Sanctions - Bath County Court, January 2014

The Claimant's claim had been struck out owing to a failure to comply with an unless order made after the Claimant had failed to attend an earlier hearing. I argued that this was not a de minimis failing or alternatively that no good reason had been offered to the court as provided for in the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Andrew Mitchell MP v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1537 and that the application should fail.

Held: The Claimant's failings were not de minimis, there was no good reason given, and the claim should remain struck out with the Claimant to pay the Defendant's costs as asked.

A Management Company v Tenant - Application for Permission to Appeal - Winchester County Court, July 2013

The management company had issued a notice to tenants under s.20 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 that works costing in excess of £250 per tenant were to be carried out. Some time elapsed before the works were carried out and Tenant had sold her interest in the property by the time the charges were demanded. Service of the notice was not evidenced in the claim and was not disputed by Tenant, who was represented by solicitors, in the defence. At trial the District Judge dismissed the claim on the ground that it was a fundamental error not to have evidenced the s.20 notice.

I argued that there had been a procedural unfairness or irregularity which had prejudiced the Claimant pursuant to CPR r 52.11(3)(b) and that the District Judge ought not to have raised a matter not in dispute or ought to have allowed the Claimant to deal with it once he raised it on the court`s own motion.

Held: Permission to appeal was given limited to the question as to whether the District Judge was wrong not to have allowed an adjournment for the Claimant to deal with the point not previously disputed. At the appeal hearing, the appeal was upheld.

A v B - Small Claims Trial - Bromley County Court, May 2013

I acted for B, the ex-boyfriend of A who was being sued for a number of packets of duty-free cigarettes and a large number of LP records which A claimed to have given to B to sell on eBay and which, she claimed, he did but did not give her the proceeds.

In her claim, A had submitted an unsigned statement together with a list of LP records and prices entered by an un-named eBay seller by way of purported valuation.

I raised a preliminary issue in relation to the purported valuation on the basis that it purported to be expert evidence for which no permission had been given pursuant to CPR r 27 and, further, even if such permission were to be given retrospectively, which was opposed, the valuations could not be relied upon as there was no evidence that the valuation had been done with sight of the items or any knowledge of their provenance or condition. Additionally, as the identity of the eBay seller had been hidden from the Defendant, there had been no opportunity to ask questions of him, thereby avoiding a further cardinal rule of expert evidence.

The Deputy District Judge ruled on the preliminary issue that the document put in evidence by the Claiment did purport to be expert evidence for which no permission had been sought or given and that it must be excluded. On that finding, the Claimant`s case on quantum could not be dealt with without further proceedings. Given that finding, he said that he had no option but to dismiss the claim as it would be disproportionate to do otherwise.

Mortgage Lender v Borrower - Application for Permission to Appeal/Appeal - Winchester County Court, April 2013

I acted for the Mortgage Lender to oppose the application for permission to appeal. The borrowers had got into very serious arrears and had failed to persuade a District Judge to suspend execution of the warrant of possession. An appeal had been dismissed a month earlier owing to non-attendance by the appellants.

The appellants` case, put by counsel, was that the Defendants were earning well and had invested significant amounts of money into refurbishing the property. They could afford to pay the mortgage and the arrears over a reasonable period. They claimed fraud on a bank account and cheques lost in the post had been the reasons for non-payment of the mortgage.

I argued that the history of the matter showed that whatever sums of money were coming into the household, the mortgage had not been paid for a very long period and this must call into question the appellants' figures. The explanations offered by the appellants for their financial problems were at odds with the facts of the case and were not credible.

The judge set aside the earlier order (dismissing the application for permission to appeal) and limited the application to one to suspend a warrant under s.36 Administration of Justice Act 1970, which he then dismissed.

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