A Greater Manchester businesswoman who was unlawfully evicted from her sandwich shop was awarded damages of £9,079 by the Court of Appeal.
The award compensates Sheila Grange for losses she suffered due to the action of her landlords Anthony and Kay Quinn.
The Court of Appeal judgment reversed the first instance decision of Recorder McDonald at Manchester County Court in February 2012.
In June 2008, Mrs Grange purchased a sandwich bar from Mr and Mrs Quinn for £9,950. The purchase price included a lease of the property at 44 Osborne Street, Bredbury, Stockport.
Shortly after Mrs Grange began trading, her relations with Mr and Mrs Quinn began to deteriorate. Mrs Grange was repeatedly accused of having breached the terms of her lease. These allegations were always denied.
However, six months later, without warning, Mr and Mrs Quinn changed the locks and re-possessed the property. Mrs Grange then commenced proceedings, claiming damages for unlawful eviction.
At first instance, Recorder McDonald held that Mr and Mrs Quinn had acted unlawfully in evicting Mrs Grange but only awarded her nominal damages of £300 because he was not persuaded that she had suffered any financial loss as a result.
Mrs Grange appealed to the Court of Appeal on the issue of the amount damages awarded. Her appeal was heard on 31 October 2012 at the High Court before Lord Justice Jackson, Lady Justice Arden and Mrs Justice Gloster.
The Court of Appeal today overturned the decision of Mr Recorder McDonald and has found that Mrs Grange was entitled to be compensated for the wasted expenditure she had incurred as a result of the actions of Mr and Mrs Quinn. The Court calculated that her wasted expenditure amounted to £9,079, being the purchase price Mrs Grange originally paid for the business, less the period that she had the benefit of trading from the premises.
Harrison Drury acted for Mrs Grange throughout the saga having originally been instructed by Mrs Grange’s daughter following her response to a blog about commercial leases on the Harrison Drury website. The case was undertaken under a “no win no fee” agreement due to Mrs Grange’s limited financial means.
Colin Fenny, associate solicitor at Harrison Drury, said: “We are delighted that Sheila has finally received the outcome she deserves. It has been more than four years since she was unlawfully removed from her business premises and she has finally been properly compensated for the loss and damage she suffered as a result.”
Colin continued: “This case has important implications for both landlords and tenants. It is significant even if Mrs Grange had been in breach of the lease, the eviction would still have been unlawful. Initially Mr and Mrs Quinn did not follow the correct procedure for establishing breach of the lease in the first place. They then compounded this by accepting rent which meant that any right to forfeit had been waived before the locks were changed.
“If commercial landlord’s wish to enforce their rights under the lease, it is vital to take professional legal advice before taking any pre-emptive steps because – as this case shows – the financial consequences can be enormous. From a commercial tenant’s perspective, it is equally important to contact a solicitor without delay if your landlord takes, or threatens to take, enforcement action against you because time is very much of the essence in these cases.”