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Litigate or Negotiate?

Richard Moss Solicitors was instructed by a property consultant in respect of his claim against a landowner who wished to develop one of his sites.

Our client’s claim formed three parts. The first part was valued at £70,000 but this part had poor prospects of succeeding at trial. The second part was valued at £20,000 but this part also had poor prospects of success. The third part was valued at around £16,000 and this part had good prospects of success. In other words, the most likely outcome of the litigation was our client being granted a judgment in the sum of £16,000.

At an early stage in the litigation, Richard Moss Solicitors commenced negotiations with the solicitors acting for the landowner with a view to settling our client’s claim on the best possible terms. Those negotiations resulted in the landowner offering to pay our client the sum of £25,000.

Taking into consideration the offer was £9,000 more than the likely outcome of the litigation, our client gladly accepted the landlower’s offer. Furthermore, acceptance of the offer spared our client the costs of proceeding towards trial, the majority of which he would probably not recover from the landowner if and when the first and second part of his claim failed at trial.

Manchester Law Library

Manchester’s Law Library was established in 1820 making it one of the oldest libraries in the UK and it has occupied its Grade II listed building in Kennedy Street since 1885. The Library’s members consist of solicitors and barristers only and, likewise, its committee, which is responsible for managing the Library, comprises solicitors and barristers only.

In the circumstances, it was an honour and a privilege when the committee instructed Richard Moss Solicitors to act on the Library’s behalf in a recent matter. It was particularly satisfying when Richard Moss Solicitors successfully negotiated a settlement on terms that were great for the Library.

Richard Moss Solicitors was instructed to act on behalf of a director of a Plc whose employment had been terminated.

On 10 April 2013, the Plc served legal proceedings on our director client which were accompanied by an application for an interim injunction. If the application for an interim injunction was granted by the Court, it would have had the effect of preventing our director client from working in the only business he had known since 1987 for six months.

Immediately before the Court hearing on 19 April 2013, the Plc’s substantive claim, and its application for an interim injunction, were settled but on terms that none of the parties would make any public statement on the terms of settlement.

Whilst we would like to reveal the settlement terms we secured for our client, we cannot do so. Nevertheless, we believe it is safe to say that, since 19 April 2013, our director client has been actively working in the only business he has known since 1987!

Richard Moss Solicitors was instructed to assist a client appeal against a County Court Judgment requiring her to pay £4,590 to the claimant.

Shortly before the appeal hearing that had been listed on 20 March 2013, Richard Moss persuaded the claimant to agree that (a) his client’s appeal be allowed (b) the claimant’s County Court Judgment against his client be set aside (c) the claimant’s claim against his client be struck out and (d) the claimant pays his client’s legal costs.

The result Richard Moss obtained for his client is unremarkable except that the claimant’s claim was for less than £10,000 and so it had been allocated by the Court to the ‘Small Claims Track’ in which the general rule is that the ‘winner’ cannot recover legal costs from ‘the loser’.

Despite the usual ‘no costs rule’ applicable in the Small Claims Track, Richard Moss successfully negotiated an agreement whereby the claimant paid his client’s costs.

Before our landlord client instructed us to act his behalf, he instructed a firm of unregulated, non-lawyers claiming to offer ‘specialist landlord support services’. Our client paid money to that firm for it to issue a section 21 notice and then begin proceedings for a possession order and payment of rent arrears.

The tenant defended the proceedings on the ground that the landlord’s section 21 notice was invalid. Furthermore, the tenant made a counterclaim for housing disrepair.

However, the tenant failed to comply with the Court’s orders and procedural rules and so the Court struck out the tenant’s Defence and Counterclaim. Richard Moss Solicitors was instructed shortly after the tenant applied to the Court for her Defence and Counterclaim to be reinstated.

At a hearing in Birmingham County Court on 4 March 2013, Richard Moss successfully opposed the tenant’s application for her Defence and Counterclaim to be reinstated. Further, Richard Moss successfully obtained an order that the tenant pays all rent arrears. Even further, Richard Moss successfully obtained an order that the tenant pays his client’s legal costs.

However, the Court refused to grant a possession order because the section 21 notice was invalid. In the circumstances, Richard Moss has been instructed to issue a fresh section 21 notice and then begin possession proceedings all over again. (Richard has also been instructed to bring a compensation claim against the firm that negligently prepared the invalid section 21 notice).

The obvious lesson to be learned by landlords is not to instruct a firm of unregulated, non-lawyers. (By way of analogy, would you hire a taxi driver knowing that he had neither a driving licence nor motor insurance?).

Success in Cold & Wintry Halifax

Richard Moss Solicitors was instructed to act for the owner of a commercial unit who found himself in a disagreement with his neighbour regarding the precise location of the boundary dividing their respective properties.

The neighbour issued proceedings against the client. The Court-appointed, joint surveyor prepared a report stating the boundary was exactly where the client said it was. Obviously, the neighbour was unhappy with the joint surveyor’s report so he applied to the Court for permission to rely on his own surveyor who, unsurprisingly, took a different view.

The neighbour’s application was heard on a cold and wintry day in Halifax County Court on 23 January 2013. Richard Moss advocated against the neighbour’s barrister. The Court agreed with Richard’s submissions and refused to allow the neighbour to rely on his own surveyor.

This result means that only the Court-appointed, joint surveyor’s opinion will be taken into consideration by the judge at trial which provides the client with a significant evidential advantage.