Updated April 30 2021 @09:45am
In what had to be the last throw of the dice, the Grand’s freeholder, Hallam Estates lost its last battle in the High Court. Seeking to overthrow the July 2018 decision to transfer sole control of the residential interests in the Grand to a Tribunal-appointed manager, Hallam sought both a stay of the implementation of the order and a Judicial Review claiming:
“The claimant’s business and the livelihood of 50 people working in its premises being irreparably damaged”.
Agreeing with the four previous appeal decisions that went against Hallam, Her Honour Judge Karen Walden-Smith gave the June 2019 application very short shrift:
“This attempt to judicially review the Upper Tribunal for refusing to give permission to appeal the decision of the FTT (Property Division) is totally without merit and there is no basis for a stay.”
The deliberate use of the phrase “totally without merit” has great significance and was intended as a firm warning to Hallam Estates as to any future litigation.
The meaning of “totally without merit”
The Court of Appeal in Wasif -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department  confirmed that “totally without merit” means “no more and no less than ‘bound to fail‘”. A case will be bound to fail (and therefore totally without merit) where there is “no rational basis on which the claim could succeed“. No judge should certify an application as “totally without merit” unless he or she is “confident after careful consideration that the case truly is bound to fail. He or she will no doubt have in mind the seriousness of the issue and the consequence of his decision in the particular case.” (per Maurice Kay LJ in Grace).
A case certified as “totally without merit” could lead to the litigants being defined as vexatious litigants and the possible imposition of an “all proceedings order” under section 42 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 which prevents the litigant from bringing any civil or criminal proceedings, from issuing or conducting proceedings on behalf of others, and from acting as a McKenzie Friend, without High Court permission.
This particular application was submitted in the name of Hallam’s ‘new’ director, Robert Moss (pictured), and followed on four previously failed appeals, two of which were rejected by the Upper Tier Tribunal (Lands Chamber). As the judgement shows, there was little doubt as to its real authorship, the bankrupt Michael Stainer, who continues to run businesses at the Grand as if nothing has happened since November 8th 2018.
“This application…..purports to be by Hallam Estates Ltd and Mrs Doris Stainer. Hallam Estates is apparently making its representations through Mr Robert Moss as a Director of Hallam Estates although he relies on a witness statement provided by Mr Stainer. Both Mr and Mrs Stainer are undischarged bankrupts and as Mrs Justice May made clear in her order dated 12 February 2019, it is an offence for an undischarged bankrupt to indirectly or directly take part in the promotion, formation or management of a company.”
Michael & Doris Stainer
More to come; specifically commenting on the original July 5th determination that saw a new management order imposed that placed control of the residential areas solely in the hands of the new manager, Mrs Alison Mooney, and the imposition of a 25% liability towards service charges on Hallam Estates, the judgement states:
“The FTT had jurisdiction to make the orders it did and given the history of obstruction and frustration of the original management order, the FTT were plainly acting within their powers to make the order that was made.”
The grounds for Hallam’s application ranged from the curious to the down-right bizarre:
The bankruptcy orders were based on falsified evidence
Evidence presented concerning plans that led to the identification of the residential areas were falsified
There is a clique of lessees of the Grand who have been in part responsible for engineering the insolvencies at the Grand