Leaseholders at Plantation Wharf are demanding an Extraordinary General Meeting to halt the legal action to forfeit the £800,000 flat of pensioner Dennis Jackson, 73.
Leaflets are circulating at the prime Battersea development overlooking the River Thames, where Nigella Lawson has her TV studio kitchen and where Commons Speaker John Bercow is in the process of buying a £935,000.
Jackson faces court action on November 28. It is the final stage of a protracted dispute over £9,000 of service charges that began in 2009 when Plantation Wharf Management Limited was controlled by the site’s freeholder. Since October 2011 the company has been controlled by the residents, but the board supports continuing the very expensive legal action.
One resident has written to the board: “My strong feeling is that, as this is such an important issue, the shareholders MUST have a say in this action, and Plantation Wharf Management Limited must have an explicit mandate from the majority of the shareholders for repossession.”
But the chairman of the board, ex-solicitor Bryan [Howard] Lewis has replied: “The matter concerning the legal action against Dennis Jackson was debated at the AGM on October 9 to which all shareholders were invited; very few chose to attend.”
This has prompted another resident, who was present, to ask whether there are any minutes of the meeting as she claims there was no show of hands.
Lewis has told the residents in an email that it will require 10 per cent of the qualifying residents – perhaps 15 people – to call an EGM and he has no intention of calling one without it.
There is also an inconsistency in Lewis’s email. He claims Plantation Wharf Management Limited, which the residents have controlled since October 2011, “has been left with no option other than to institute forfeiture proceedings”.
Indeed, Lewis informed Leasehold Knowledge Partnership that the board could halt the legal action against Jackson at any point before the county court hearing of November 28.
But he now tells the residents that the board is powerless to halt the forfeiture action: “Because only the freeholder can forfeit a lease, the proceedings were issued by Cinnamon (Plantation Wharf) Limited, albeit with the full support of the Board of PWML. Consequently, even if an EGM of PWML decided to drop the proceedings, the matter is out of our hands.”
Whether this is entirely correct may be established on November 28, as Jackson’s LVT actions involved Plantation Wharf Management Limited.
Lewis also criticizes Jackson for having “sought to involve outsiders who, by publication of a series of half-truths, smears and complete inaccuracies have tried to embarrass the Board and stand in the way of the legally binding decision of a Tribunal”.
This is presumably a reference to LKP reporting the Jackson case. The forfeiture of a resident’s lease by his neighbours is most unusual. There is, obviously, no intention on LKP’s part to thwart an LVT decision, were such a thing possible.
As for Lewis raising the issue of “half-truths, smears and complete inaccuracies”, his own career is a matter of public record: a disgraced ex-solicitor with a conviction for a crime involving dishonesty on January 22 1993; the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal refusal to restore him to the roll of solicitors on July 24 1997 and his involvement in conveyancing transactions that resulted in three solicitors being suspended as recently as August 21 2008.
The appeal to residents for an Extraordinary General Meeting
Sam Fryer Shareholder PWM Ltd
14 November 2012
Dear Fellow Residents at Plantation Wharf,
I believe that it is time for the residents of Plantation Wharf to hold an extraordinary general meeting.
For those of you who are not aware, our neighbour Dennis Jackson is facing forfeiture of his flat in Calico House in a court action to be heard on November 28.
The court action is being taken by Plantation Wharf Management Limited, which we, as residents, control. …
This is a long standing dispute over service charges involving Dennis and fellow resident Rosemary Irving, who died in June this year before the last Leasehold Valuation Tribunal hearing into the case.
Disproportionate legal fees have been run up in this case by Plantation Wharf Management, with the result that Dennis (who had no legal representation), is being taken to court for £39,500, with every likelihood of this sum ending up considerably more. PWM Ltd have instructed solicitor Janice Northover to enter a claim for possession of his home. The case began when PWML was controlled by the freeholders at this site, but is being continued – wrongly – by us, without us being consulted.
The stand that Dennis and Rosemary took against extremely complex accounts at Plantation Wharf were the catalyst for the residents gaining control of PWML and reduction in our Service Charges.
I feel sternly that if a neighbour is going to have his home forfeited in our name, we should make that decision ourselves.
We have a real opportunity with this crisis to gain proper control over Plantation Wharf and run it for the benefit of all who live here.
Please support me in demanding an extraordinary general meeting to end this debacle.