The residents of Brixton Hill Court have won their right to manage application after their first attempt saw them looking at legal costs of £42,000, subsequently reduced to around £25,000.
The ruling is dated September 27, which means there is still a possibility of the freeholder appealing.
After the disaster of the first application, the residents contacted the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, which highlighted the case as yet another example of freeholders deploying expensive legal teams to frustrate RTM.
The residents application had been handled by a London solicitors’ practice, which had made successful RTM applications in the past, but not against a freeholder determined to resist.
LKP advised the residents to use the services of the Right To Manage Federation, headed by Dudley Joiner. It has taken around 250 blocks to right to manage, including more than 70 retirement blocks, and has successfully fought against freeholders using every legal stratagem to hold on to the property management.
In both actions at Brixton Hill Court, the freeholder Springquote Limited, whose directors are given as Rivka Gross, 66, and Abraham Y Klein, 51, of north London, deployed Liverpool solicitors JB Leitch and barrister Adrian Carr, of Tanfield Chambers.
The RTMF uses the services of lawyer Margarita Madjirska-Mossop, of Mayfield Law, who at one point worked for the Leasehold Advisory Service.
The ruling granted by Judge Mrs N Haria could be appealed, but appears robust. It will be at significant financial risk if the Springquote decides to appeal.
The freehold owners’ barrister Adrian Carr claimed the freeholders had suffered prejudice because although they owned 10 flats in the block and had not received “notice of invitation to participate” in the RTM.
This was like a “person who has not received an invitation to a party”, he said.
But he could produce no witness statements, while the tribunal found that solicitor James Compton, who handled Brixton Hill Court’s original application, and resident Dorothy Leiper, who had organised the notices for the RTM, were “honest and credible”.
An attempt by Carr to persuade the tribunal that the RTM issues had already been raised in the previous hearing and therefore should not be argued anew also failed.
“Ms Madjirska-Mossop stated that the tribunal should weigh up any prejudice to the respondent against prejudice to her client. She also pointed out that there is public interest in certainty in proceedings and parties are entitled to be able to get on with their lives …
“The tribunal finds the public interest argument put forward by Ms Madjirska-Mossop compelling. The tribunal is of the view that it is in the interests of justice and in the interests of the parties for there to be finality in legal proceedings which extends also to efficiency and economy in litigation.”
LKP has repeatedly expressed its frustration at property tribunals turning down right to manage applications owing to expensive lawyers disputing the most petty and pedantic errors in the application.
Judge Naria is to be congratulated for seeing the wider issues at play at Brixton Hill Court, where the residents have already lost £25,000 is seeking to exercise their “right” to manage the block themselves.
“We are absolutely delighted that this issue seems at last to have been resolved,” said resident Angela Saul, 78, one of the Brixton Hill Court RTM company directors.
“Obtaining right to manage should not be as difficult as this and it has cost us all thousands of pounds to achieve.”
The full ruling can be read here: