Student pair scores tribunal victory

A pair of student barristers who triumphed in a leasehold valuation tribunal have saved their clients thousands of pounds in service charges and legal costs.

College of Law students Joanne Green, 23, and Chris Costigan, 22, who represented a group of nine leaseholders from a block of flats in Hounslow, were pitted against a team of City solicitors and a barrister of several years call.

During the four-day hearing, the BVC students argued that the landlord’s proposed service charges were too high because some of the repairs were not as essential as had been claimed. The tribunal agreed with the students and slashed the landlord’s total service charge from 328,000 to 218,000 and also consented to cut the landlord’s legal costs from 26,000 to just 3,000, saving each tenant approximately 10,000 in service charges. The ruling could also have an impact on the service charges levied in a neighbouring building.

Green said: “It’s wonderful to have produced a result that may have a bearing on leaseholders in a similar block of flats.”

Meanwhile, David Cotton and Stuart Edwards, also College of Law BVC students, have also managed to win a reduction in service charges for three clients living in a block of flats in Kensington, worth close to 40,000. The students, who appeared in front of a leasehold valuation tribunal, were pitted against a barrister of 19 years call who also sits as a recorder.

Edwards said: “There’s nothing like pro bono work to complement academic study with a practical insight of how the law actually works.”