On 18 November the Court of Appeal granted permission to the landlord to appeal the judgment handed down in the Phillips v Francis case in the High Court in December 2012.
By way of a reminder, the judge had ruled that major works costs could no longer be considered on a project-by-project basis but must instead be considered ‘in the whole’. For property managers this has meant that, without the ability to separate out both proactive and routine work into individual projects, the statutory limit of £250 per leaseholder has been reached all too quickly.
In their application for permission to appeal, the landlord stated that the case ‘raises an important point of principle and practice’ and that the decision has caused ‘unprecedented industry interest and concern’. Additionally, the landlord stated that a lack of funds due to unpaid service charges was the main reason for their delay in making the application.
The respondents (the leaseholders) argued, amongst other points, that an appeal will cause a delay in proceedings in the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). They also stated that the support for the appellant from ‘interested industry parties’ is prejudicial, as they have had no offers of help with either their costs or submission.
In his judgment on 18 November 2013, Lady Justice Gloster granted permission to appeal and also allowed an extension of time, noting the important point of principle created by the case.
No date has yet been set for the appeal and, until it takes place and judgment is made, landlords, managing agents and RMC directors must continue to budget carefully for their block management maintenance and works, and to ensure transparency and open communication with leaseholders at all times.
With thanks to Anneli Robins, pupil barrister at Arden Chambers, for her detailed note..
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For help with planning your major works projects, consulting with leaseholders, or any aspect of service charge arrears and recovery, please call a member of the Brady Solicitors team on 0115 985 3450 or send us an email.