15 November 2013 | Gurjit Degun
Leeds City Council will continue to chase the former chairman of a property company for £2 million in legal costs after she failed to meet yesterday’s deadline. http://www.leeds.gov.uk/
Last month, the high court granted the local authority permission to pursue Jan Fletcher for its legal costs after it won a high court battle in February against Montpellier Estates.
Justice Michael Supperstone ordered Fletcher to pay interim costs of £2 million before 14 November, pending a final decision on the total due. This was after the judge allowed an application from the council at the High Court in Leeds to join Fletcher into it claim for costs against Montpellier.
The application was based on an earlier personal undertaking from Fletcher to cover the costs, should Montpellier be unable to do so. According to the authority, Fletcher gave the written undertaking to it in July 2012, guaranteeing payment in the event of Montpellier losing the case and not being able to pay.
The case saw the property company allege that the council had broken rules, breached an implied contract and had deceived the company to keep it in a procurement competition. It relates to a procurement process to find land and a developer to build an arena in Leeds.
A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: “It is very disappointing that despite giving us a written undertaking that she would personally pay any cost order that her company, Montpellier Estates, could not meet, as well as the High Court making an order for her to pay interim costs of £2m by the 14 November 2013 – Jan Fletcher has as yet made no payment to us. No credible proposal for paying our costs has been brought forward either.
“In the circumstances, where we have had to defend a case which the judge said should ‘never have been brought’, we have been left with no option but to enforce the order against Jan Fletcher to recover the public money we are due.
“We would be failing in our duty to the council tax payers of Leeds if we did not actively pursue these very large costs.”