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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70196
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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The landlord have taken me to court legal fees

Customer Question

Hi
The landlord have taken me to court for the legal fees of around two years in relation to small amount of arrears that I had withheld. However when i inspected the accounts they have already charged and paid it through our service charge account. Can they claim it from me while other lessees' legal fees have been paid through our service charge collectively?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What are the legal fees ? did they actually sue you on these occasions?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi. Sorry to come back to you late. I am sick. Please pay attention below in response to your question.

I withheld a small portion of my service charge account in an desperate act to make the landlord to comply with their lease obligations. they took me to small claim court for the withheld amount and I also made a counterclaim. I became ill at the day of the hearing. The judge ordered us to pay their cost of £15000.00. There were issues at the hearing that it was not fair as my friend who's name is ***** ***** lease too attended the court but he was only given 30 minutes while the other party had more than one hour without my friend present with the judge. I have applied to set aside the judgement but have not heard anything yet.

In the mean time the landlord have applied for an interim charging order to be heard on 18th of March 2015.

Again I will not be available on this date as I will be going away for a period of two months.

I inspected our accounts last week and I noticed that all these charges that they are claiming from me firstly most of it is not related to this case and related to other issues i,e I served the landlord a notice to receive information about lessees details for RTM and secondly they have already taken and charged these fees through our service charge account like other legal fees that they mostly charge it through the service charge account.

My question is can they make such application when they have already received this sum through our service charge account? Isn't that fraud or lying in such application although they will probably say we claim it to put it back in to service charge account? even so shouldn't they have cleared this in the application that they have already been paid but claiming back for service charge account?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, they could make that application and it is not fraud.
You might well have a ground to resist the application. It depends whether or not there was a separate agreement to pay this sum.
However, even if there was not that still would not make it fraud.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok thanks. Shall I then write to the judge indicating the amount on the application has already been paid through our service charge account which I partly pay as with all other legal fees relating to lessees which are paid through our service charge account. In addition I have been paying a lot for other lessees' legal fees for years and why should they treat this differently. They are harassing me about these charges because of personal vendetta against me. Can they do make me pay for other's legal fees and make me to pay for my own legal fees? isn't that discrimination?

There was no agreement to pay these charges as they are not correct at all and mostly related to the management inquiries that I had made to our management that they had passed it to their lawyers.

Thank you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It depends. It is difficult to say.
Arrears are not normally paid through service charges?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry perhaps I did not explain clearly. I do not owe them any service charges or any interests. the small amount I had withheld i paid it by the time I received the summons but I made a counter claim for other matters against them. The total amount of £15000.00 in the application is all legal fees and not service charges which is also unusually high for small claim court.

Is your response different now that it is all legal fees and not service charge invoice.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I thought it might be something like that.
If these are legal fees then they may be due. It is not a defence to say that you paid or did not pay a service charge.
if this was a small claims court action then legal fees would only be due upon order of the court.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I do not understand your response. it does not seem to be relevant.

As I had explained earlier the landlord has already put this amount through our block service charge account. and as I had explained Landlord normally pushes these kind of legal fees through our service charge account that we pay collectively. Are you familiar with property leases and law? so they already have paid their lawyers from our service charge account collectively? however they are making an application for a payment when they have already levied this fee from our service charge account. Does this make sense to you?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Sorry but that doesn't make any sense at all.
You say above that this is £15k in legal fees?
If they have had to sue and this does exceed the small claims court remit or otherwise is inappropriate for that track then they are entitled to their costs following order of the court.
Whether they have paid their lawyers from your service charge or not is a non issue. This specific action, they will say, arises as a result of your breaches or inaction and they are entitled to costs.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok agreed. let's say they are entitled to their cost and my point is they have been paid for their cost. But you say it is not an issue that they have been paid. How this is not an issue as they are making an application for a cost that they have already been paid.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Not if it is a stand alone action.
If they have had to sue and this does exceed the small claims court remit or otherwise is inappropriate for that track then they are entitled to their costs following order of the court.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

ok I am going to close the question, but I think you misunderstood my issue. Thank you

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Don't understand why I got an email indicating you have responded to my question. Do you have anything new to add to what you have already indicated?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No. You are probably seeing site generated emails
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No problem.
All the best.

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