The actions of a Falmouth holiday cottage leasing firm have been described as “deliberate and wrong” during an appeal hearing.
Judge A Cresswell made the comments as part of hearing involving businessman John Hick and the Pendra Loweth Management Company, who were applying for permission to appeal a previous ruling.
This had stated that members of the Pendra Loweth Leaseholders Group, who own some of the 116 cottages at the Maen Valley site near Goldenbank, had been wrongly paying service charges for eight years.
A tribunal judge in Plymouth ruled in March that the charges for 2006 through to 2013 inclusive were not payable under the terms of the lease.
The tribunal heard that no audit of the service charge accounts was made – a requirement of the lease – and that the demand for maintenance was accompanied by a set of accounts for Pendra Loweth Management Limited rather than individual service charge accounts.
Mr Hick and the management group have subsequently sought permission to appeal against this determination.
In this second hearing Judge Cresswell commented on “one or two issues of accuracy and interpretation.”
He said Mr Hick and his company had “incorrectly” placed reliance on his previous comments that stated: “There is no suggestion here that anybody has acted in an untoward manner, rather than there is a significant level of ignorance as to what is required for the protection of the rights of tenants.”
He said this meant that “what the respondents did was not deliberate and dishonest, but that it was deliberate and wrong.”
He added that the appeal request appeared to complain that the tribunal did not go on to determine whether the demands would become payable if further demands were made.
Judge Cresswell said this was “not the purpose of the hearing”.
The tribunal refused to give permission for Mr Hick and the management group to appeal, as it was not satisfied any of the grounds of appeal were likely to succeed and it did not accept there was a “reasonable prospect” of the upper tribunal finding that the first tribunal had wrongly interpreted or applied the law.
However, Mr Hick and Pendra Loweth Management Group are still able to make a further application for permission to appeal, to the Upper Tribunal, within 14 days.