Another Successful Case!

by Apr 18, 2023Successes & Wins

Our client was a leasehold in respect of residential property. A claim was issued against him for alleged unpaid service charges, administration charges and legal costs. The Particulars of Claim were standard in nature. They appeared to be a template as they simply contained 5 paragraphs. The claim was for £1,698.80 plus further interest.

We were instructed to assist our client with defending the claim and we helped prepare a Defence.

We prepared the Defence after reviewing the lease. In summary, the defence stated:

  • That the Particulars of Claim were template in nature and it appeared that the solicitor signing them had not done so without authority from the Claimant or at least without reading the lease
  • The Claimant was put to proof of the date of the demands and that the demands had been served in accordance with the lease
  • The Claimant was put to proof that the service charge demands were compliant with the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
  • That the Claimant had the right to bring the claim as under the Lease, they were identified as ‘Block Manager’ and the lease or the Particulars of Claim identified how they were entitled to the money
  • That the Landlord (under the lease) had complied with their obligations (to provide accounts) to enable recovery of service charges.
  • That the Particulars of Claim did not comply with Rule 16.4(2) and therefore the claim for interest should be disallowed
  • That there was no contractual or any other basis for the claim for ‘Administration Charges’
  • That the claim for legal costs were in breach of the indemnity principle, in that the Claimant’s Solicitors’ website expressly stated that it provided its services for free
  • The Claimant was put to proof that it had entered into a valid retainer for payment of legal services with the solicitor

At the same time was providing the Defence, our client made an offer to settle in the sum of £167.42 which was not responded to.

The Court allocated the matter to the Small Claims Track and eventually gave directions for witness evidence, which was due on 11 April 2023.  With our assistance in drafting the witness statement, our client complied with the deadline.  Our client’s witness evidence, in summary stated:

  • That the Claimant was not the Landlord
  • The lease placed an obligation to pay the Landlord, and only the Landlord (unless the Landlord nominated someone else)
  • Our client did not recall ever receiving a nomination.
  • The Lease required service charge demands to be delivered personally or by 1st class post, or by fax.
  • The lease required the Landlord or a Management Company, or their accountants to deliver an annual statement of Service Charges and they had failed to do so.
  • There was nothing in the Lease to support a claim for Administration Charges.
  • The Claimant’s Solicitors’ website (a print out of which was attached to the statement) confirmed that the legal services to recover service charges would be free.
  • That the SRA required solicitor firms to publish costs for such services and the Claimant’s Solicitors had failed to do so.

Low and behold almost immediately after being served with the statement, the Claimant’s Solicitors filed and served a Notice of Discontinuance claiming (albeit correctly) that it was no longer commercially viable to pursue the case.

This is the second time that our client (on his own account, or via his Limited Company) has been successful in the defence of this type of claim. Both times with our assistance and both times it was against the same firm of Claimant Solicitors, Brethertons LLP (who both times have used template Particulars of Claim without reference to the lease.)

Our fees for this claim are less than the value of the claim and our client’s success shows how we can help you in bringing or defending claims.

For clarity, we are not a firm of solicitors and cannot conduct litigation. We can however provide assistance and advice and our fees are up to 67% less than the typical high street firm.