Leasehold managing agent Benjamin Mire has “resigned” his judicial appointment at the property tribunal following complaints from two leaseholders.
They argued that his position involved a clear conflict of interest.
Mire, 52, a chartered surveyor and managing director of Trust Property Management, based in Colindale, north London, resigned while the complaints were being considered by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (which until earlier this year was the Office of Judicial Complaints).
“Benjamin Mire has resigned his position as a judicial office holder,” Philip Hales, an official of the JCIO, told the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.
“A review body was prepared earlier in the year and when he received its report he resigned. A formal statement is made by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, and it is their decision whether to make one.”
No reason for the resignation has been given by either the JCIO, or by Benjamin Mire himself.
But his decision to quit as a panel member of the First Tier Tribunal, formerly the LVT, is being hailed as vindication by the two leaseholders who made complaints.
They felt that it was inappropriate for Benjamin Mire, whose company manages 14,000 properties, to sit on the tribunal panel while also frequently representing the freeholders who employ him.
“The appointment of Benjamin Mire to the panel of the property tribunal affronts every notion of justice that I have ever learned,” says Colin Dennard, 72, a retired international hotelier from Bournemouth, Dorset.
Dennard, who managed the Hotel Meurice in Paris and the Carlton in Cannes, has twice confronted Benjamin Mire at the LVT.
“I felt most uncomfortable doing so under these circumstance.
“It is clearly wrong to have to face someone who appears as a member of the tribunal panel at the very same LVT offices. I am delighted that he has resigned.”
Another complainant was former London leasehold owner Karen Darvell, who now lives in Yorkshire.
She has been pursuing her complaint against Benjamin Mire at the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, and its predecessor, for more than two years.
Last week Philip Hales, of the JCIO wrote to her: “In this case the judicial office holder resigned before the disciplinary process was complete. When this happens all investigations into events must stop. The reason being that no disciplinary action can be taken against someone who is no longer a judicial office holder.”
While a panel headed by Judge Gordon Risius considered the case earlier in the year, Benjamin Mire resigned his position at the end of July.
Shortly afterwards, Mire’s personal profile on the website of Trust Property Management was changed and the information that Benjamin Mire was “a Valuer Chairman of the Residential Property Tribunal Service (RTPS) Southern Rent Assessment Panel and Leasehold Valuation Tribunal” was removed.
Miss Darvell first raised the issue of Mire sitting as a panel member in August 2011.
“I first complained to Siobhan McGrath [president of the property tribunal service] about the inherent lack of impartiality of the panel hearing cases at the LVT given that Benjamin Mire sat on both sides of the table,” she said. “I also questioned how Mire could have been appointed in the first place given his track record, so often upheld by the LVT.
“I shall be contacting the JCIO to insist on having a copy of the investigating judge’s report.”
At more than 30 LVT hearings, Mire has represented freeholder Lakeside Developments, headed by David Glass, which also owns 16.75 per cent of Trust Property Management.
The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership has contacted Benjamin Mire for a statement, but has yet to receive one.
It must be understood that at this stage the reasons for Mire’s resignation are not known.
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