Licensee loses appeal hearing against Enterprise Inns

By Gurjit Degun

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Rent review Landlord

The Alma, Islington: licensee Kirsty Valentine has lost her appeal hearing
The Alma, Islington: licensee Kirsty Valentine has lost her appeal hearing
Kirsty Valentine of the Alma in Islington, London, has lost her appeal hearing against Enterprise Inns at the Shoreditch and Clerkenwell County Court.

Valentine, the third licensee to go through the Pubs Independent Conciliation and Arbitration Service and the first to lose a PICA-Service case, accused Enterprise of not assessing her rent properly and misleading her into signing a rent review during the appeal hearing on 9 and 10 April.

The court heard that when a rent review took place in 2007, Valentine was led to believe that the rent calculations had taken into account a disregard of £9,000pa, equating to a net annual difference of £4,500pa.

A disregard means that physical developments of the property should be taken off the rent — Valentine had spent £90,000 making improvements to the pub.

Valentine was seeking damages resulting from Enterprise’s alleged failure to ‘set-off’ the disregard against rent. Enterprise said that Valentine had been underpaying rent for a “significant amount of time”.

In a judgement that took almost an hour-and-a-half, Judge Donald Cryan cited several cases — inside and outside the trade — where set-offs had been argued.

He concluded by saying that the language used to explain the anti set-off clause in the contract between Valentine and Enterprise Inns was “as simple as possible: to pay rent without any set-off”.

Judge Cryan said: “It is argued, by Tony Verduyn [Valentine’s barrister], that in a landlord and tenant case one has to look at the complete matrix and disparity between the parties and interpret the [set-off] clause accordingly.

“Here, the lease avoided temptation of using multiple phrases which resulted in the language being as simple as possible — to pay rent without any set-off.

“It is a large category but being a simple phrase, it is easy to understand. I’m satisfied that the language precludes any set-off of any type, including that of fraud.”

Valentine had also lodged a counter claim with her defence saying that Enterprise breached its code of practice, and that her legal rights had been compromised by the PICA-Service decision — claims that will be considered at a later date.

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