Sheila Gavigan, of the Cock Tavern, in Somers Town, launched a counter-claim against landlord Flamestrike Ltd earlier this year when it pushed for possession of her pub.
Flamestrike bought the freehold of the pub from Admiral Taverns on 28 April 2011, and it is now being run by pub management company County Estate Pubs on its behalf.
Gavigan believed she was entitled to a barrelage discount of £40 per barrel under the terms of her lease and disputed Flamestrike requesting three months’ worth of rent in advance.
However, in a ruling at Central London County Court on 29 November, Judge William Birtles rejected Gavigan’s case on the discount scheme, referring to the agreement between Admiral Taverns and Gavigan which said that the discount was “at the discretion of Admiral”.
He added that she owes arrears of £13,267 dating from 19 January 2012 - when the lease was forfeited by Flamestrike for non-payment of rent.
Whilst Gavigan has been granted relief from forfeiture, the arrears must be paid within six months from the date of the judgement, in order to avoid possession of the property by the landlord.
It is understood that County Estate Pubs will now grant Gavigan a barrelage discount from the date of the judgment, but she said she will appeal the judge’s decision not to compensate her £7,064 for the previous loss of discount.
“I am just totally disgusted and gutted with the ruling,” said Gavigan. “I have taken this to court and it has backfired - I definitely want to open an appeal.
“If I only had one year left on the lease, I would happily accept any of their demands, but there are 20 years left on the lease and this is the home of a lot of people who are totally and utterly shocked about what has happened. This is a proper community pub and they don’t know where they are going to go.”
George Scott, of Ferdinand Kelly solictors, who represented Gavigan in the case, added: “I believe that the judiciary are not willing to interfere with the status quo and tend to side with the landlord. It is quite obvious that the discount was intended with this lease but there were just a number of technicalities.
“It is just very unfortunate when the intention of the landlord had always been to afford this discount - it is part of the debt-building situation to forfeit the lease.”