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About SpringyOrange

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  1. Yes, small claims at Brighton County Court. Two directions hearings were held at Lewes under a different judge, and gave an entirely different impression of the outcome. The judgment was awarded almost entirely against me. I submitted my bundle one day late (snowed in), and theirs was served a full four days after mine. The judge considered the contract to still be in force, so I was held to paying three months from the written notice date (15 days after verbal notice was recorded and accepted), and 23 days after the contract would have ended, had it been signed. This was not a possibility presented to me by either party I sought advice from. They were also awarded all damages from my deposit, despite providing no evidence, and the judge declined to consider my evidence to the contrary because he "wouldn't know what he was looking at." verbal agreements by both parties were conceded, but not taken into account because they were not on paper. I would feel much better about the ruling had I been allowed to make my case, but I was not. *shrug*
  2. Well, it didn't matter in the end. My witness was not permitted to speak, no one was sworn in, and the judge declined to hear or see my evidence. It was not at all what I expected based on how I'd read small claims hearings were conducted!
  3. Thank you, Lea_HTH, that is really helpful. I'm not at all looking forward to the day, but it is reassuring to know how things will go in advance, and I hope it will put my witnesses' minds at ease too. I assume they will only be able to question my witnesses about things they have said in their statements?
  4. Hmm, that was a really long answer to a very brief question. I hope it makes sense!
  5. Please excuse any typos, have a broken finger! My friend and I had a licence to occupy land and stables. I paid the £1800 deposit. We were onsite from April 2, 2010 with a 1-year license which required 3 months' notice, and paid fees monthly. No agreement was signed after the first year, and as the facilities were unsafe for both horses and handlers, with no effort made by the licensors to remedy, we regretfully had to find somewhere else after spending over £1200.00 to get the facilities to a usable standard in the first month we were there. We ended up giving nearly six weeks' notice. The licensors became very intimidating and difficult to deal with, and claimed to be missing payments from over a year previous, which we were never notified about, and the banks say were honoured. I remedied nearly all that they noted at check-out meeting, and double-paid those payments (for a peaceful life), leaving it to my co-licensee to sort out where the missing funds went with her bank. All that was left was a quote for harrowing one field, and a quote for fixing a sagging fence we paid over £750 to have installed (no one would have taken the fields without a perimeter fence). Got a quote for the harrowing, and they never had it done. Asked fence builder for a quote, and he told us the reason it was falling down is that he was instructed to place it in unstable earth by the licensors, against his advice. He felt it would not be appropriate for me to be liable for the repairs, and originally agreed to provide a witness statement. As he sees them socially and they sometimes provide him work, he is now too afraid of retaliation and harassment to follow through with his promise. They have since had the fence fixed by a different contractor for £200.00. So they have had a £750.00 fence for £200.00, but the fence builder is also dragging his feet re providing a copy of the invoice for the original fencing. I subsequently learned, after getting a quote for harrowing, that my other witness had all of the fields topped harrowed and rolled a few weeks after we left (we left in February, so the ground was too soft at this point) at her own cost, so they have sustained no damages or expenses. The defendants claim she never had this done, but she has given a witness statement to this effect and is willing to come to court for me. They were abroad for six weeks when she had the work done. She left a few months into her contract for similar reasons to us, and spent a lot more money than I on facilities. They are pursuing her for licence fees for the remainder of the contract, and she has counterclaimed for a significantly larger amount. She is very worried about anything she says affecting her case, so is limiting her testimony to the field maintenance, and not their aggressive behaviour or the condition of the facilities. I filed my claim six months after we left, when it became clear they did not intend to return the undisputed portion of my deposit, (the better part of £1500.00), and they counterclaimed for nearly two months' licence fees (over £2,500.00), as well as deciding that the biggest field suddenly needed reseeding for over £1000.00. They told the judge in a directions hearing in January this year that the field had not been used since our departure, but it is clearly visible from our new yard and the public byways, and after that kept a brief log of how many horses were in it. When they made me a silly offer and admitted the field had been used out of necessity as of two months before their statement to the judge (not under oath), I told them I was aware, and stopped logging as I thought they were dropping the issue. They then claimed it was only for four hardy ponies "from time to time", and that I was still liable for reseeding, but I regularly logged 8 full-sized horses at all hours of the day, every day, with photographs. So I guess it's great that they've lied as I can prove it? My third witness (well, the second that is willing to come forward) is my co-licensee, who is the one who paid the monthly licence fees (I paid my share into her account, and she paid the total fees from there to the licensors) and witnessed their intimidating behaviour, as well as logging the disrepair. She, I think, will go forward whatever, but I don't want my other witness to get cold feet, and want to be able to tell her how things usually play out at these hearings. We are all aware that they are not afraid to lie, so I am trying to be as solid in my evidence as possible so that there is no possible way they can get away with it. Fortunately, I have lots of contradictory things from them in writing. It's so unpleasant, but I can't just kiss £1800.00 goodbye, and no longer feel any deductions would be appropriate. I need all my witnesses, and am down to 2/3 of them, so want to keep them happy!
  6. I have a hearing coming up for a deposit dispute. I have already lost one witness who promised to write a witness statement, but has now backed out for fear of retaliation. I know the hearing won't be fun, but I don't want my two remaining witnesses to get cold feet. It would be great to be able to tell them ahead of time what to expect. Can they be cross examined by the defendants like I can? One is particularly concerned as she is being aggressively pursued by them as well, and has filed a sizable counterclaim. She is keen not to jeopardize her case in any way by being a witness in mine. Is there anything she needs to be aware of? Thanks in advance!
  7. Hello! Obviously I am brand new here, but I've been lurking for a while reading some helpful previous posts. However, I'm not sure that many apply to my situation, which is an issue with a former landlord (licensor!) at a yard my friend and I formerly let for our horses. We were there from April 2010 to February 2012, but only had a signed license on file for the first year. We paid monthly, and the licensors regularly accessed our barn, and used our fields for their own purposes. We also had restrictions on hours we could be onsite, all of which make me think that it was definitely a license, rather than a tenancy. We signed contracts prior to moving in... actually prior to the facility being built, which was a mistake in retrospect. They cut corners everywhere possible, and we moved into an unfit facility. They promised many more renovations and facilities, however any that actually were completed were done well beyond the promised date and to an unsafe standard. We did not pay a deposit on moving in, as we had to spend over a thousand pounds to render it usable at all. They also claimed that they needed the deposit so that they could fund some of the promised improvements which weren't complete on arrival. Our license required three months' notice by either party to terminate the agreement, however we did not sign a contract after the initial contract ended. The licensors informed us that they would then be free to force us off the property with no notice, a risk which we were happy to assume. We gave just shy of six weeks' notice at the beginning of 2012 as we had found a safer facility for both horses and handlers for a much more reasonable price, and paid a deposit into a DPS (something I'd never heard of before!). After giving notice, the already tense situation with the licensors became much more difficult, with them alternately saying that of course we were free to leave without paying anything, and that they "didn't want to get heavy". We agreed orally that our initial costs to render the facility usable would be offset against any costs for damage, and I paid the deposit (£1800) as a gesture of goodwill at that point. They also claimed suddenly to have never received license fees for October and November 2010. We produced bank statements demonstrated that those months had indeed been paid, and they produced bank statements demonstrating that the payments had not arrived in their account. Again, as a gesture of goodwill (and to prevent physical action which they have a local reputation for), I paid those two months so they could not consider us to be in arrears, and resolved to pursue it through the banks. They had four different accounts we paid into during our tenure there, and they only showed us statements for one. Eight months later, the bank is apparently still trying to sort it out, as the licensors are refusing to cooperate in locating the money. We did a check out meeting in which we stated nothing would be agreed at that time, we would merely take notes and respond in writing. They made several unreasonable requests, and I responded in a registered letter, stating which costs I agreed to have deducted/offset from the original costs we incurred, and which I disputed. Seven months later, they were still refusing to return my money, despite the fact that I offered that they simply ignore the original costs and just deduct the £110 they were requesting, and return the remainder. Soooo I went onto MCOL, and filed a claim for the deposit. They defended it, and referred to a tenancy, landlords, and tenants. While this is not accurate terminology, I am wondering if the court will now consider that we had a tenancy, and that the original notice period (three months) should still apply? They have counterclaimed for nearly two full months' rent (until the end of what the license period would have been, had a contract been signed), and have suddenly come up the idea that a field needs re-seeding because of us, despite never mentioning it before, and included an extortionate quote from their tenant farmer. Their defense is very emotive, and very inaccurate. Their conclusion was that I should have £212 returned to me from my claim, but that they should be paid over £2500 for their counterclaim. I have sought some basic help from a local solicitor to draft a defense to their counterclaim, and a 30-min directions hearing has been scheduled for later this month. My solicitor has been absolutely wonderful, and has worked within my limited budget to give me a great framework, but I'm hoping there might be some more rural bods on this board with some experience in the field of horse properties. What can I expect from the directions hearing? There are two defendants, and just one of me. They are very intimidating, and I am not looking forward to being on my own around them, as they used to wait until my friend was away on business to take me aside and push for money. They know I'm a soft touch. Do I have a right to bring someone with me for moral support? What sort of rights/obligations did we have as licencees with an expired license for an equestrian facility? The next tenant left a month ago amidst a lot of similar issues, and they are threatening to pursue her through the courts as well. She is willing to be a witness for me that the fields were in good repair when she moved in. They are also trying to claim money for themselves from my deposit for routine work which SHE paid to have done when she moved in. The tenant farmer stated to me that he felt it was due to their lack of maintenance after our departure that the field needed re-seeding, but he is unwilling to be a witness, as he is still in a business relationship with them. Sorry, this feels incredibly complicated to me, and I'm so unsure of what to expect and now even questioning whether I am in the right insisting that my money be returned! They spend a lot of time on various legal actions, and I am so unfamiliar with these sorts of situations that I'm beginning to worry that they might be in the right. Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give. I know this is not your typical residential or commercial letting question.
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