Witness the truth...
IN THE CENTRAL LONDON COUNTY COURT CHY09015
26/28 Park Crescent
London W1N 3PB
Wednesday, 21st July 2010
HIS HONOUR JUDGE POWELL
B E T W E E N :
GAVIN & Anor. Claimants
- and -
COMMUNITY HOUSING ASSOCIATION LIMITED Defendant
Transcribed by BEVERLEY F. NUNNERY & CO
Official Shorthand Writers and Tape Transcribers
Quality House, Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP
Tel: 020 7831 5627 Fax: 020 7831 7737
THE CLAIMANTS appeared In Person.
MISS Z. BHALOO QC appeared on behalf of the Defendant.
P R O C E E D I N G S
I N D E X
JAMERA, Ms. MONIQUE, Sworn
Examined by Miss BHALOO 3
Cross-examined by Miss FLORES 5
UKHUELEIGBE, Mr. RICHARD, Sworn
Examined by Miss BHALOO 47
Questioned by JUDGE 48
Cross-examined by Miss FLORES 73
(TRANSCRIBED FROM A POOR RECORDING)
MISS BHALOO: Your Honour, I call Monique Jamera.
JUDGE COWELL: Who?
MISS BHALOO: Monique Jamera. I thought that was the plan for this morning.
JUDGE COWELL: Just before you do, I do want to say something about the witness statements and it is certainly not your fault, but what is so difficult is that, in large part, they state again, sometimes not very accurately, what is in the emails. They are what I call "local authority statements". We have this again and again.
Instead of exhibiting the documents and giving real evidence such as to say, "After I received such-and-such an email, I did this, that and the other," it is a turgid re-statement, as I say, not very accurately, of what is in the email. Do you see what I mean?
Can I just give you an example? It is the way in which solicitors prepare witness statements, which is wholly unhelpful. Let us go to the statement itself. The top of p.90, if you please, is an example, in B.1. At the very first line, there is a statement: "The contractors repaired the pipe and then removed the damp‑boxing on 26th June 2008." That is not her evidence, as I understand it, because, on reading the email of 7th July, it is simply summarising what Miss Flores said in her email.
Do you see why it is not evidence?
MISS BHALOO: Your Honour, it is referring to documents --
JUDGE COWELL: The email, yes.
MISS BHALOO: -- and it is summarising for the court what that document says. Your Honour, I note your comments and will take them into account in future, but ---
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, it is something which I am invariably saying in local authority matters because, somehow, solicitors believe that what they should do in a statement is to recite what an email says and it is there.
MISS BHALOO: Yes, your Honour, I am afraid some judges do find that helpful, so it is rather difficult because one never knows. In this case, your Honour, we knew, at an early stage, that you had reserved this matter to yourself.
JUDGE COWELL: I know.
MISS BHALOO: But I did not know that that was your Honour's preference. I have to say, your Honour, that some judges say, "Well, couldn't you summarise in this what the email says?" So, from the point of view of the solicitor, it is - and we will certainly note that, from your Honour's point of view, it is not helpful so summarise. But one of the difficulties when one is trying to present a picture, if one just says, "There was an email and then I did whatever," some judges get irritated because they have to go to the email, they have to work out what the email says and then they have - so what the witness statement is trying to do is to present an overall picture, and the email is there as well. I am sorry your Honour did not find it helpful but I do ...
JUDGE COWELL: I see, and I feel very bad having made the point.
MISS BHALOO: No, your Honour, is of course perfectly entitled to make the point. All I can say is that we do do the best we can and ...
JUDGE COWELL: I am very sorry if it was deliberately done to help.
MISS BHALOO: Your Honour, it is quite difficult to know. It is the same with skeletons: some judges want two lines and the authority mentioned, and other judges want - the Court of Appeal saying, in one case, "I don't want all these authorities cited to me," and then you turn up to court and you cite what you think is just the main authority and they say, "Well, there are lots of other authorities, aren't there?" So, your Honour, it is quite difficult to know in advance, but I am sorry if they were not helpful to your Honour and certainly, your Honour, that is noted.
JUDGE COWELL: I am sorry to make a fuss.
MISS BHALOO: No, no, not at all, your Honour.
JUDGE COWELL: I found it so difficult to know where this lady and also Mr. Knap were actually giving evidence.
MISS BHALOO: Yes, your Honour, of course, part of the evidence is to exhibit the - this is the difference which I have been trying to point out to some of the earlier witnesses, that what - your Honour wants to know what is from personal knowledge that someone has witnessed oneself and what is from the documents and perhaps it is that which one needs to make clearer. But, your Honour, one of the purposes of witness statements is also to put in - I know your Honour says it is not evidence, but it is, it is documentary evidence, and one of the purposes of the witness statement is to put that in, too. I do hear what your Honour says and we will ...
JUDGE COWELL: Then I will hear the evidence of Ms. Jamera.
Ms. MONIQUE JAMERA, Sworn
Examined by Miss BHALOO
JUDGE COWELL: Ms. Jamera, feel free to sit or stand from time to time ... whether you are reading something. And may I make it quite clear that I am in no way making any criticism of you in relation to your statement? You undoubtedly just read it through, thought it was helpful and signed it.
MISS BHALOO: Ms. Jamera, could you give his Honour your name and business address?
A Yes, sure, it's Monique Jamera and the address is at 1 Housing Group, 100 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8EH.
Q And, Ms. Jamera, there should be a bundle somewhere near you, which is labelled "B.1" If you could turn to tab 16, first of all, in that bundle?
Q Is that a statement made by you in relation to the injunction application made by the claimants?
A Yes, that's correct, yes.
Q And is the signature on p.84 --?
A Mine? Yes.
Q Is that signature yours?
A That's correct, yes.
Q And are the contents of the statement true?
A That's correct, yes.
Q And could you then turn to tab 17?
Q Is that a further statement of yours?
A Yes, it is.
Q And is the signature on p.92 yours?
A That's correct, yes.
Q And are the contents of that statement true?
Q Your Honour, I would ask that the statement stands as Ms. Jamera's evidence‑in-chief.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes.
MISS BHALOO: Ms. Jamera, if you wait there, there will be some questions.
JUDGE COWELL: One of the things I have noticed is that there is a counterclaim and, at some stage, I will be asked, will I not, to say what you claim is owing?
MISS BHALOO: Yes, your Honour, I am afraid I completely overlooked an up‑to‑date rent statement. I will get that produced, perhaps tomorrow, by Mr. Barnet.
JUDGE COWELL: In relation to what has been paid, I want to be quite clear that there is agreement about it, if there is agreement, or what is the issue between the parties.
MISS BHALOO: Your Honour, I do not think there is disagreement about what has been paid. Ms. Jamera deals with when it was paid and certainly that is not challenged in the witness statement or indeed in the particulars of claim.
JUDGE COWELL: I would be enormously relieved to know that there is no issue about something.
MISS BHALOO: Yes, that would be good. Your Honour, as far as any rent which has accrued since that ... mesne profits, that will be a matter for (a) calculation, really, because there is no dispute that, since Clarke J's order, nothing has been paid for the occupation of the property, because he said that - your Honour will recall that was one of the things which was raised in that s.25 application.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes.
MISS BHALOO: And then, your Honour, the final point will be that if mesne profits arise, rather than then rent payments, then there will be the evidence that the market value has risen.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, and that is nothing to do with this witness.
MISS BHALOO: No, your Honour. She does, however, deal with the payments which were said to be made at or around the time of the forfeiture, and you have her version of that.
JUDGE COWELL: At p.77, onwards.
MISS BHALOO: Yes, your Honour, and then it is picked up again --
JUDGE COWELL: In the second statement.
MISS BHALOO: -- in the second statement, because that first statement was prepared ...
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, some time ...
MISS BHALOO: It was prepared for the injunction, so it was picked up again at p.91, and the letter of 24th October, which preceded the re-entry, and the application for an injunction is now exhibited because it was in the application bundle in front of Clarke J but now it is put in and some comments are made about it.
JUDGE COWELL: Thank you very much.
Cross-examined by Miss FLORES
Q Sorry, your Honour, on the subject of the rent, obviously we submit that the s.25 was an improper inducement to fix the floor; also that we had been promised a rent of 5½ thousand from the defendant, which we will further show, and that it was an act of harassment. We also think that, although the market value has gone up, a lot of the improvements are ours, which we were told by Jacqui Greene would not be included in any kind of rent review. God forbid we get these premises back, but ----
JUDGE COWELL: My remarks were that I hope it will be agreed between the parties as to what in fact you have paid, that was all.
MISS FLORES: Up to ----
JUDGE COWELL: Paid, full stop, ever since ...
MISS FLORES: The beginning of time, I see. So, basically ----
JUDGE COWELL: And so, in due course, Miss Bhaloo will provide some account, if it is not already - I think it probably is here, is it not?
MISS FLORES: We could do that, your Honour, as well.
JUDGE COWELL: And you can do that. But you may very well agree as to what you have paid.
MISS FLORES: Yes, and Ms. MacIntyre and Ms. Cracy could swap notes on the rent situation. And we believe we have got 49,000 outstanding to be paid back to us. The defendant's case is that they do not pay back, but we say it was held in trust. There was one other point on that. We also feel it was a very damning omission that they did not immediately go for rent after that order.
Ms. Monique Jamera, you are from St. Lucia, are you not?
A Yes, that's correct.
Q And you were educated there and you came here, did you not?
A At the age of 14, yes, I came there and back, so ...
Q Monique, you do not know me ----
JUDGE COWELL: Sorry, I did not actually hear the question.
MISS BHALOO: The question was: "You are from St. Lucia? And you were educated there and came here after that."
JUDGE COWELL: Sorry, I did not hear. Educated in St. Lucia.
MISS BHALOO: And I just was not clear as to the relevance of that.
MISS FLORES: I do not think there was really relevance in that I know Monique, and Monique knows me a bit and I think a lot - sorry, the witnesses: I like to put a little bit of background on people. And, also, I believe that myself and Monique got on rather well, only on the telephone but we met at the High Court and it is all a bit unfortunate, I think. But, I do not know, I just started like - it is breaking the ice, one would call it, maybe, and I did not have it written down, it just come off the top of my head.
Right, okay, Monique, so you started the job in 2007, or was it ---
A February 2008.
Q Yes, so it is the same year as we got into the dispute with the defendant.
A That's correct, yes.
Q And you were pretty much in the thick of it.
Q Yes, okay. What I wanted to ask you was - I suppose what I am trying to get at is a sort of misleading of a new person on the job. I am not answering your question, and I do not admit - I do not imagine you might say that. But, when you were interviewed for the job, were you in any way made aware of the current dispute, since you were taking over the commercial properties and there is just 18 of them?
A No, I mean, obviously, it was more than 18 properties because obviously it was not just Community Housing Association. There's a further two RSLs under the one housing group management, so it was more than that, but we never went into detail on what outstanding issues at interview stage when I, you know, was interviewed for the role.
Q Yes, because Toynbee and Grange - was it Grange?
A It's Toynbee and Island Hones.
Q I always forget that third one: Island Homes. Just out of interest, nosiness, call it, how many more properties did Island Homes and --?
A In total, we've got just over 100 commercial units, yes.
Q So a much bigger outfit --
Q -- now; hence, you know, two proper commercial managers ----
A That's correct.
Q And you had worked in housing associations before, so you were very aware of ‑‑‑‑
A No, I'd worked in - for private property management companies that dealt with the block management, as well as commercial, previously, but not a registered social landlord, no.
Q Okay, so it was pretty much the same basis --
A Yes, pretty much the same, yes.
Q -- Oliver coming from, more risk - property management, straightforward property management.
A That's correct, yes.
Q Right, okay, cool. So, Monique, on page - sorry, I am going to cut to the chase - D.3, 669.
Q Yes, 669, D.3.
JUDGE COWELL: This is an email: D.3, 669.
MISS FLORES: Sorry, maybe I have got the wrong file.
JUDGE COWELL: I think you may have because we are back in 2007.
MISS FLORES: Sorry, your Honour, it is the same file. It is actually 819, which is June 2008. I am sorry, I was referring to a note beside it, sorry, your Honour.
So it is the same file: 819.
Q That is a June 2008 email.
JUDGE COWELL: It is 13th May.
MISS FLORES: 819, here we go, yes, 13th May. Now, the third paragraph in. Put a bit of background on it. Basically, Farr was the broker. You were communicating with Farr with regards to the floor, which had been taken up in January --
Q -- which - and you maybe just want to say in your own words why you believe that it was not dealt with as a claim.
A Basically what had happened was, when I joined, you know, Oliver was dealing with yourself in regards to the floor which you had taken up over Christmas and New Year.
Q That is right, yes.
A From what Oliver told me, he wanted me to make a claim to the insurance company for you, and whether or not it was going to be with Farr or Zurich, he wasn't 100 percent sure because he wanted me to ascertain from Miss Gavin/Miss Flores whether or not it was definitely something which happened as consequential damage from the flood that had happened in the previous years, or whether or not it could be dealt with a new claim with our new insurers, Zurich, because Farr had not acted as us as a broker for a couple of months and he felt that maybe it would be ----
Q I was not aware of that.
A Yes, I mean, they weren't - we were no longer covered with them. Obviously everything that had happened in the preceding years then, yes, they would be dealing with ----
Q They were the broker?
A They were the broker, but it was actually Zurich that we were with.
Q Zurich being more local authority insurers, is it not, really?
A I don't know whether or not, but ----
Q The whole of Camden Council's with Zurich.
A I don't know.
Q So you had a new broker.
A No, I don't know how ----
Q Or just direct with Zurich.
A I don't know how it was brokered but I don't know how they got with Zurich but, yes.
Q Fine, so you were going back to Farr PLC --
A Yes, I was going back to Farr ----
Q -- who really now were not even the broker.
A No, they weren't, they weren't dealing with any other insurance matters on our behalf.
Q God, so dealing with Matthew.
JUDGE COWELL: Who did Farr deal - which insurance company?
MISS FLORES: Farr was the broker.
A Farr was the broker and they ----
JUDGE COWELL: Of --?
A RSA and UKU.
Q Just a moment. Farr broker of RSA and --?
Q But not of the Zurich.
Q I have got it.
MISS FLORES: So they must have come off cover about April, probably when the renewal ‑‑?
A I don't know when exactly they came ...
Q So would you say that they were not the broker when you arrived in February?
A I don't think - I don't believe they were, because we weren't - all new insurance claims weren't dealt with by Farr; it was dealt with directly with Zurich.
Q Yes, I see now where you are coming from. It must have been quite difficult to go back to a broker who no longer had an interest really in the claim, I suppose.
Q Possibly, yes.
Q Yes, which, hence, why Matthew was maybe a bit strange. And you were not aware of that, obviously. Now, going to you being new to the situation, 819 on that page. On the third paragraph down, it is Matthew saying, on 13th May, which is five months into the floor being up - he is saying: "Should the flooring pre‑date the tenants' residence in the property, I shall happily add the details to the material losses claim." Now, the material losses claim - What was it called? - MLS, or something like that. There is two. There is POL, which is property owner's liability, and then there is material damage claim, MDC, or something like that. Anyway, just to be clear for your Honour, that he would happily add details to the material losses claim and arrange an adjuster. "We are, however, slightly concerned that this damage was never raised before. I note reference to the photographs of this flooring, taken in January," so there is photographs from Jim, they must be from Jim, "following a surveyor's visit [so it must be Jim]. These have never been supplied to ourselves." Sorry, I have made a mistake there. The photos have never been supplied, but he has noted that there were photographs taken in January. "Nor has the report [which is the surveyor's report]. Presumably this surveyor was able to ascertain that the matter linked to the original claim," which I think I was saying a lot at the time, was I not, because I was a bit afraid of being - filling out a Zurich form and then writing stuff that would not be true? And I think I really said that to you at the time. I said, "I'm not getting done for fraud." It was difficult for me. I had to chase the original people.
A Sure, yes.
Q So, "Presumably this surveyor was able to ascertain that the matter linked to the original claim." Do you remember what you said about that, about some of your previous claims, whether you thought it was usual or unusual?
A Yes, when I had the original discussion with Miss Flores, I said to her, "I find it strange" ----
JUDGE COWELL: Just a moment. When you had the original discussion with who?
A With Miss Flores, I said to her I found it unusual that, at the time, the loss adjuster didn't take into account the floor, as the previous claim that I dealt with with my previous employer was actually ----
Q Do not go too fast because I want to make a note of what you are saying.
Q It was unusual the loss adjuster did not take into account the floor.
Q Yes, sorry, and do you want to say a bit more?
A A previous claim that I dealt with from a previous organisation, the loss adjuster had made a note that obviously the floor had been under water for some time and it could start to, you know, soak up - could have soaked up the water and it could - it may need replacing.
MISS FLORES: It was common sense. I think that is what was your approach.
JUDGE COWELL: That was wholly unrelated.
A That was a totally - it was an unrelated claim. That's what I'd experienced in the past, so I found it, you know, unusual that they hadn't, at the time of the leak, taken it into consideration.
Q Yes, I follow.
MISS FLORES: So just to end that email: "Can you confirm or deny all of the above? Please supply the report/photographs in any event." Now, if we then jump a few pages along to 831 - sorry, there is one before that. You say, on 4th June --
JUDGE COWELL: Let us just find it.
MISS FLORES: On p.828. There has been a lot of talk about that claim.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, just a moment.
MISS FLORES: I think you are exasperated by that point, are you not, with the whole thing?
A I think, at that point, it was, you know, taking advice from Farr that, you know, the matter had to be dealt with and for our protection.
JUDGE COWELL: Sorry, wait a minute.
MISS FLORES: So we then had to ----
JUDGE COWELL: Wait a moment, I want to hear the evidence.
MISS FLORES: Sorry.
JUDGE COWELL: You had taken advice from Farr, do you say?
A Farr. I'd taken advice from Farr, Matthew at Farr, that we shouldn't really be communicating with the claimants on matters because ----
Q Just a moment, "I'd taken advice from Farr," presumably over the phone.
A Yes, that's correct.
Q That --?
A We shouldn't be in direct communication with the claimants in regards to ----
Q "We shouldn't be in direct communication with the claimants."
Q Yes, I see.
A Yes, in regards to the claim, because, you know, RSA and UKU had wanted to them to deal with it directly.
Q In regard to the claim, because what?
A RSA and UKU, the insurers that Farr represented, wanted them to deal with them directly.
Q Because RSA and UKU what?
A Wanted the claimants to deal with Farr and their representatives. It was Plexus Law.
Q Wanted claimants to deal directly with Farr PLC and Plexus Law.
A That's correct, yes.
Q Yes, I see.
MISS FLORES: But I think because at that stage obviously it had got much higher than we even knew about.
Q And so therefore it was ...
A Yes, obviously, I can't comment on what was going on in the background between Farr and the insurers, but I know that, obviously, communications that I'd had with yourself, I, you know, stated, "Jo, you need to speak to them, give then, you know, give them what they want because, you know, that's what, you know, that's what they want, that's what they want to be able to deal with it, so, you know, just" ----
Q It was not a normal relationship, landlord and tenant relationship, between us any more; it was pressure from their ...
A That's correct, yes.
Q And also because there is a clause that says you are within - with the insurer, which is your third party, there is a clause that says that they are actually allowed to tell you not to communicate with us.
Q A bit like if you have a car accident: you do not admit to anything because your insurers says "no".
A I think probably, at that point, Farr just wanted, obviously, even though they weren't no longer under cover, no longer the broker, they wanted to make sure that we didn't put ourselves in a predicament, so they said the best thing for us to do was not to communicate with yourselves directly.
Q Did you find that frustrating at all?
A Obviously, from my point of view, I wanted to ----
Q The human point, yes.
A Yes, I wanted to help you out, the best that I could.
Q Yes, and you did, a few times.
A And, you know, through the best of my ability, you know, I was chasing them and, from my point of view - I know you mentioned that you felt that it was kind of like giggly between me and them, but the way I saw it, it was like I couldn't be stern with them. It was more of a kind of like be softly softly approach to try and get it resolved instead of like saying, "Why aren't you doing this? And why aren't you doing that? Get it sorted." I was saying, you know, "What's happening? Is there any more - you know, you know, is there any movement? Can you let me know?" because, like, obviously, I didn't know Matthew any more than I knew you, so it wasn't ----
Q Yes, precisely, it is all phone relationship.
Q And, in a way, you are playing the middle guy.
Q And you was trying to ...
A Piggy in the middle, basically.
Q Yes, but also having to be nice to each party.
Q But I think you are very genuine as a person, you come across very genuine.
JUDGE COWELL: So you were then writing an email to Matthew Greenland and he was - who did he represent?
A He represents Farr. He was, basically, the account manager for - at Farr PLC.
Q Greenland was account manager at Farr.
A That's correct, yes.
Q At Farr. And, in this 4th June email, you were saying to him, "I've asked her time and time again to speak to you, but she has refused. Take a look at her email. Please advise me as necessary."
Q Because, at that stage, you had been told, as I understand it, that you should not be involved in the ----
A That's correct, yes, that's correct.
Q Although, from your point of view, you were anxious to assist.
A Absolutely, absolutely.
MISS FLORES: And, just to make this clear, Monique was dealing with a floor, not an old claim, and been caught up in a liability claim which she had no real knowledge of, that is fair to say, and the ins and outs of what had happened to us, or even the leaks themselves, like the stack pipe, the ----
A You see, everything that I knew was secondary, from reading files or speaking to yourself about it.
JUDGE COWELL: You never went along to the premises?
MISS FLORES: New to the job.
A No, I hadn't been to the premises.
JUDGE COWELL: You never saw the premises.
A No, no.
MISS FLORES: And obviously did not really know who was right and who was wrong --
A That's correct.
Q -- only from a guess, really.
Q You have never seen the photos of the stack pipes, the stuff down the walls. You had never seen the flooding. You had never - although I told you.
Q Right, okay.
A Miss Flores making aware of the previous incidents of water ingress and various sewage leaks into the property, but, obviously, I wasn't with the group at the time, so I didn't have first-hand knowledge of what had happened; it was just file notes and obviously ----
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, I quite follow.
MISS FLORES: So, regarding the outstanding liability with Farr PLC, and we have acknowledged that they were not on cover there, nor was RSA, nor was UKU, so really you are dealing with a bunch of people that have no particular interest in the Housing Association or the claimant.
A Well, they should because obviously they were under cover at the time of the incident.
Q At the time.
A At the time of the incident, and obviously what ----
Q And that follows through, does it not?
A Yes, and obviously what you were saying is that it was a result of that leak. I think what they were trying to get at was, "How do we know?" It wasn't noted that, it, this, that the floor ...
Q Which we agree.
JUDGE COWELL: You understood that that was their concern.
A That's correct, yes, and obviously I think ----
MISS FLORES: Do you think they just wanted to get out of it.
A I can't comment on, you know, how they wanted to get out of it. I mean, as an organisation, you would think not, because obviously they were the ones that would be responsible.
Q But if you are no longer paying them.
A But we paid them for the periods that were ----
Q You paid ----
A Where it happened, so there shouldn't be an issue as to whether or not - they were under cover at the time, so they were the insurers.
Q There should be almost like a guarantee that they would effect, you know, continue - in fact it is in the policy, is it not, that if an incident happens within the period of cover, that, whether or not --
A Exactly, so ----
Q -- a few years later, that that insurance company will cover all aspects of that claim to the time?
A Yes, so I had no ...
Q So you expected something from them, but ...
A Yes, but I would have expected them to resolve it, as the incident occurred under cover. As I said, I think they were - the biggest issue with them was that ...
Q The liability.
A No, I think, in regard to the floor, was that, you know, "How comes this wasn't noted? How comes this is the first we're hearing about it? How do we know? It's been such a long time and it hasn't been noted." It's been X amount of years since the original leak happened ----
Q No, I think they were talking about the fact that the claimant - sorry, you being the claimant at the time, the insurers, which was just a month before you arrived, had not notified the insurance, because in the event of any kind of claim, the insurers - which could be insured - the insurers have to be notified as soon as it happens. That would be ----
A Yes, absolutely.
Q And, in actual fact - I mean, let us skip past p.828 where you say, "I'm losing my patience with her. I've asked her time and time again to speak to you but she refuses," but we go past that, to 840 on the same file. Right, so that is you saying to Matthew - it is how long after the first email? It is a month later anyway. Right, you say: "Miss Gavin contacted our surveyor," and I say that because I think there was some confusion as to what to say back to them, so hence the late reply, but: "Miss Gavin contacted our" - sorry, your Honour, it is p.840.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, I have got it.
MISS FLORES: It is the second line in: "Miss Gavin contacted ..."
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, I have got it, thank you.
MISS FLORES: "... our surveyor, who originally inspected the property in January. She claims pictures were took and a report that she was supposed to send to you months ago." I think Jim took that surveyor's report. I do not think that would be me, would it: that I am meant to be sending any ----
A I can't remember.
Q It would just be that the floor was taken up, so that Jim, the surveyor, came out in the January of the incidences with - talking to Chris Natt. So, on p.845, the second line in: "This is all the necessary evidence, alongside the evidence gathered from Jim Gorman."
JUDGE COWELL: Is this near the bottom?
MISS FLORES: Near the bottom, the second - and then "further evidence can be obtained by the loss adjuster". Because what we forget is there was a whole other issue going on with the same people - well, do not forget it but we know that that was going on in the background anyway.
JUDGE COWELL: Can you remind me, Miss Flores: who was the surveyor who came to witness the flood damage?
MISS FLORES: Mr. UK. The original ceiling flood?
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, the ceiling flood.
MISS FLORES: Mr. UK.
JUDGE COWELL: And who was the loss adjuster?
MISS FLORES: That was Mr. Alan Hines of QuestGates.
JUDGE COWELL: Hence his reference.
MISS FLORES: But the person who came out to visit was his assistant, Mr. Jessie Cooper.
MISS FLORES: He was the only person who ----
JUDGE COWELL: That was on 14th October.
MISS FLORES: That is exactly right, your Honour. Just skipping to p.850 - sorry, your Honour, can I make it clear that Jim Gorman, January 2008 --
JUDGE COWELL: He was January 2008.
MISS FLORES: Yes - came out to survey the floor, which was a consequence of the same ceiling flood, so there had been a ----
JUDGE COWELL: And just remind me: who was he?
MISS FLORES: Jim Gorman, who is going to give evidence, is one of the surveyors of the maintenance, residential maintenance, team.
JUDGE COWELL: Not a loss adjuster.
MISS FLORES: No, Jim is an employee of the CHA maintenance team.
JUDGE COWELL: He saw damage in January 2008.
MISS FLORES: In January 2008 and he took photographs but he was the official surveyor that came out.
JUDGE COWELL: Thank you very much.
MISS FLORES: Sorry, Monique, moving on to 850: "Please forward this to Matthew and ask him" - sorry, that was from Oliver Barnet, so I should not have referred to that. I am just trying - Monique again, that is 865 and that is from you, at the top there.
JUDGE COWELL: Can I just ask you this so that I have got the matter clear? You did not at any stage send any claim form to any insurer on behalf of Miss Flores. Is that right?
A What we did was we obtained two quotations for the floor.
Q You took two quotations ----
A And we sent two of our contractors round.
Q You took two quotations. Yes, that is something you mention in your statement. Two quotations from two contractors.
Q You forwarded those --?
A To Farr PLC for their consideration.
Q Forwarded them to Farr's. Tell me whose quotations were they? Do you remember?
A It was a company called Cube --
MISS FLORES: Construction.
A -- Property Services.
JUDGE COWELL: Cube Construction.
A And the second one was for All Done Design.
MISS FLORES: Which I have to say were very good contractors which you brought in yourselves, did you not, from previous ----
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, you agree with that.
Q You or --?
A Yes, well, there were contractors that weren't under one housing group's books at the time. Contractors were ...
Q Contractors brought in by CHA.
Q Yes, and somewhere no doubt there is an email showing when you sent those quotations in.
A Yes, I've seen it somewhere but I don't know exactly where it is in the bundles.
MISS FLORES: It was round about June, May/June. I met the contractors regarding the leak in the electricity cupboard and the - which they found - floor. We will check the date of that, so do not worry.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, just so that I - help me, Miss Flores ----
A Yes, we submitted the claim to Farr.
A We did submit the claim to Farr for ...
Q Yes, submitted that. Did either of them come, or both of them come?
MISS FLORES: Both then. Both very good contractors.
JUDGE COWELL: Both came and, you say, in June.
MISS FLORES: In and about, but I know that, through the questioning, I will get to the exact date.
JUDGE COWELL: I see, both came in June. Did they cure the --? What did they do?
MISS FLORES: They just simply surveyed the floor.
JUDGE COWELL: Surveyed the floor.
MISS FLORES: They were there to get quotes; it's part of the insurance policy. So they surveyed the floor. Each of them made recommendation on actually removing the floor and replacing it and then replacing there upon it floor covering, which we subsequently discovered we ----
Q And the quotations related to the floor.
MISS FLORES: They were in and around from 2,000 to 5,000.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, they related to the floor?
MISS FLORES: They did indeed, your Honour.
JUDGE COWELL: I got the impression they also did something extra while they were there.
MISS FLORES: They did, your Honour, absolutely.
JUDGE COWELL: What did they do extra?
MISS FLORES: They were the geniuses who discovered the leak was in the electricity cupboard because they ----
JUDGE COWELL: Discovered the leak in electricity.
MISS FLORES: After four years.
JUDGE COWELL: And I think it was 7th July, you sent an email describing what happened when they called on 24th June.
MISS FLORES: Yes, that was the "How many surveyors does it take to find a leak?" joke. But they did find it and that was the first time they were on the job and they were contractors brought in specially from Monique and Oliver, as I believe.
JUDGE COWELL: See email 7th July.
MISS FLORES: They dealt with private properties, so they knew the viability of a commercial business was more - it needed to be done exceptionally by very good contractors. I mean All Done Design and Cube Construction: there are brilliant. They are very efficient. They are good contractors.
Seems to be going really slow. I should try and speed it up, but it is a bit difficult, sorry.
JUDGE COWELL: It is largely my fault because I just wanted to be clear about certain of the events.
MISS FLORES: So you say, on p.65, to Matthew Greenland ...
JUDGE COWELL: Sorry, which page?
MISS FLORES: Sorry, 865. You say: "Okay, fine. Just so we cover ourselves, do you have a copy of what was asked for or any communication that proves that they have been made aware of what it is needed from them?" Now, I think that is in reference to the liability claim because I think Matthew kind of roped you into knowing about that, which was something that, in a way, was not your business, but he did rope you into the - it became an issue.
A The fact was that they wanted to deal with the floor and the liability issue at the same time and that's why he kind of like briefed me on what was happening, so what he said to me was that, as soon as they substantiate the claim for the liability, they'll include the claim for the floor at the same time. That's what I was trying to say, you know, joke, "Give them what they want. Deal with the floor at the same time."
Q And we had given them everything we had.
Q But you were not in any way aware of that previous liability.
Q You were not aware of the leaks. You were not aware of anything.
Q Your aim was to get us the floor fixed.
A That's correct, yes, and I was told that, for them to get the claim for the floor, they've got to ...
Q Give us what you want from the liability.
Q So they are really mixing up two issues which were not really - they should not have been to do with another. I think the courts have already established that that is an outstanding building claim.
A That's correct, yes.
Q And I think, to this day, that it is not disputed one was mixed with the other.
A Yes, I don't know why Farr took that position but that's, you know, what they - the instructions that they give to me, that, you know, it had to be dealt with as part of the same liability claim. I don't know why that's the way that wanted to deal with it. But, in my mind, it was, okay, as soon as they can get what Farr and the insurers that they represented wanted, then everything will be dealt with and I never imagined that it would go this far.
Q Nor did I. And, as a professional person who had been in private property management before, your overriding concern was getting this floor fixed --
Q -- and getting the rent paid and getting - so your interests were the same as ours.
Q Page 865, back from Matthew Greenland, that would be the middle email, I think Matthew - what I am trying to suggest, right from the start, is he misled you, to a certain extent, because he had so much knowledge of what they wanted from us. Anyway, "Like I say, my guess is he asked her for proper documentation and unable to provide it," already he is suggesting wrongdoing on my part, which you have no knowledge of, but, basically, what I am saying is he said: "Like I said, my guess is he asked her for proper documentation ... unable to provide it" - accusatory, and of course you are not in the knowledge of any of this - "she started bothering you." Can I suggest that this is Matthew - in the hope of getting money, discounts, etcetera, without providing her losses. So, already, he is turning you, or at least attempting to turn you.
A Again, I don't think that that was his intention. I just think that he was trying to deal with the matter ----
Q Or a £300,000 outstanding liability claim.
JUDGE COWELL: Just let the witness finish.
MISS FLORES: Sorry, Monique.
A As a I said, Matthew knew everything about, you know, what had happened in the preceding years and, you know, he - I remember, in conversations that I had with him and with yourself, was, you know, that you had provided them, you had your business plan, and I remember the insurance saying that a business plan wasn't sufficient to prove these losses; that they needed accounts.
Q And we had provided cashflow accounts, we had provided business interruption, provided photograph. We provided so much stuff that in fact I remember sending you 20 attachments - Do you remember that? - when I was trying to sort of - I suppose, at the same time as him trying to persuade you, I was also saying, "We've got a case."
A It wasn't a matter of persuading me because, at the end of the day, it's down to the insurers. I could only ----
Q Well, you were the landlord, in the middle.
Q And, in a way, I think that Farr wanted you on their side as the insurers, and we needed you on our side as the claimant, so you were very much stuck in the middle, I think.
A I think, from my point of view, I was always on your side because obviously I - common sense prevails, at the end of the day. But, as I said, I don't know why Farr took the position that they did and there wasn't much that I could do about it.
Q Hands tied.
A Exactly, there's not much that I can do about it.
Q But, I mean, it could well be that there were other ways of dealing with it that maybe were not about us having to wait because of that problem, although, as you say, they made it an issue that it was our - everything was our fault.
A I mean, to - when obviously this - it, you know, started when - we're up to July now and I was getting very, you know, annoyed at the fact - not with you but with the insurers - that it was taking so long to deal with it, and I remember saying to you, "I've never had to deal with a clam that's gone on for this long before," and ----
Q And we were ... you.
A Yes, and it got to a point where obviously I was going to Oliver, who's the commercial director, for advice on how to proceed and, you know, he - I know that he had a couple of telephone calls with Farr and Matthew about the incident and, again, Matthew told them the same thing about their position was that they weren't going to deal with the issue of the floor until you had dealt with the liability issue.
Q Would you say it was sort of a bribery?
A I can't comment on that. I don't know what their intentions were.
JUDGE COWELL: You went to Oliver Barnet to see if he could help hurry things along.
A Yes, he was my line manager and commercial director.
Q And Mr. Barnet then telephoned?
A Yes, he had a few telephone conversations with Matthew at Farr when I felt that I was getting nowhere in trying to progress the claim on behalf of the claimants.
Q Yes, and, as you understand it, he did not have any success.
A No, their position was their position and, you know, they weren't going to budge on it, for whatever reason.
Q And the thing they were not budging on was --?
A Dealing with the floor as a separate building insurance issue and dealing with the liability issue separately.
Q They would not budge on refusing to deal with floor as a separate issue.
MISS FLORES: Yes, but just to say, your Honour, Matthew did say, in May, if it is not - What did he say? "If it is an old floor, then we'll be happy to deal with it under the material loss." He did actually say, at one point, that was May ----
JUDGE COWELL: Was that in an email?
MISS FLORES: Let us go back to the email. It is at p.891.
JUDGE COWELL: I see, it was in an email.
MISS FLORES: Yes, we have just been through the email. It is at p.891 where he says - he asks Monique: "Should the floor pre-date the tenants' residence in the property" ----
JUDGE COWELL: Page 891?
MISS FLORES: 819, your Honour, and that is also linked to p.831, that is the response. So that Matthew was saying, "If it was an old floor, we can deal with it as a material-loss claim," but he was concerned that it had not been reported, following the surveyor's visit to the premises.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, that is right. And he was from Farr's?
A Yes, Matthew's at Farr.
Q Yes, I follow.
MISS FLORES: And that links to 831. What did you say back to that?
A I think the issue was - because obviously I wasn't there at the time, I didn't know whether or not it was your floor, or the property was like that. There wasn't a schedule of condition of when you took the property. So, obviously, Oliver had only started on November 2007, so he didn't know, either. So I remember having a conversation, after that email, with Matthew saying that, "To be honest with you, we don't know whose floor - whether it's our floor or it was a floor that they had installed," but then I think we made the assumption that it was your floor because we remembered you mentioning of the amount of money that you'd spent on the floor.
Q That was next door, yes.
A So we didn't - you know, that's on the basis that we made the assumption that it was ...
Q But the response was a month later and he then says, on p.831, not only is he concerned that the claim has not been put in in January and the surveyor's report and the photographs but that he cannot trace the response to the email from the month before, that he sent you, regarding the material damage loss.
That is on p.831, your Honour.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, thank you.
MISS FLORES: Now, on p.850, that was more a note for his Honour because all the dates and times and everything has got to be established, so ----
A Yes, because obviously, as I said to you, when that 13th May email came, obviously I didn't know, Oliver didn't know. I told Matthew that none of us knew. We went through Jacqui Greene's files to see if we could find a schedule of condition, and I said to him that we will look into it to find out whether or not, and I know, from Matthew's point of view, I think he thought, too, that it was your floor.
Q Our floor.
A Yes, your floor.
Q So maybe there was a bit of confusion there because nobody asked us, and I would not have been able to say it was not our floor. I think Oliver asked us, though, and I said it was not our floor.
A I vaguely remember that, but then obviously the insurers were like, "Was there a schedule of condition? How do we know?"
Q I think they wanted it to be my floor, to be honest, but, anyway, we will deal with that with Oliver because I think this proves that it is not my floor as well. We have got the installation dates and the fact that Kingsbury undertook the work and it was CHA's property. I would not install a floor of vinyl anyway. More mosaic, myself. I do it, mosaics - nice gallery there.
"Please could you forward this to Matthew and ask him how they would demonstrate her losses" - sorry, your Honour, that is p.850. Oliver writes to Monique, and Oliver says: "Please could you forward this to Matthew and ask him how he would like her to demonstrate the loss. Cheers, Oliver." Now, that is Oliver, it sounds like, getting quite exasperated as well, as to how - this liability issue is interfering with the running of your commercial properties and it is also interfering with the running of our business. Oliver is asking how we are supposed to further demonstrate our losses.
Q At this stage, you probably are aware that the council are brought in.
Q The housing minister was brought in, maybe the Pope was brought it, I am not really sure exactly.
A Don't think it went that far but, yes.
Q You know, that is how bad it got, though. There were lots of political kicking about at the time and certainly actually that Gordon Brown's office had been brought in as well and the local MP and various people. So, in the background to all of that, there was politics going down. I have forgotten my question.
On this liability claim, yes, so Jonathan's involvement and also the environmental health involvement because, frustrated as I was with the situation - and in no way I blamed you. You know, to me, you tried to help, but obviously there was little mishaps, you know, bad communication, issues getting mixed up and, as the claimant, I was not getting any service for my rent, if you like. I have forgot the question again.
Jonathan involved. Right, so Jonathan Simpson got involved and the leak, incidentally, was fixed the day before the environmental health, who had written to Mick Sweeney - were you aware of any of this?
A No, no, no.
Q Right, okay, so what was going on in the background was - and we can evidence this - Dave Wagg, from environmental health - bit of a geezer - he had come out, had a visit, seen that the foundations of the electricity cupboard - which you did not see, did you?
A No, no, I've not seen --
Q -- were absolutely sodden. In fact if you want to have a quick look, G.1, which is the second folder on your right, at the top - yes, that is the one. I am sorry, I do not know the ...
JUDGE COWELL: I think the things to concentrate on with this witness - what I want to know is whether you say - you regard her as having been very helpful to you. But I just want to know ----
MISS FLORES: I would say, on a personal level, that there is that humaneness.
JUDGE COWELL: Was there anything which she did do about which you are complaining? Or was there anything which you say she should have done which she did not do?
MISS FLORES: Well, I cannot really cut to the chase that - on this issue. I would like to, your Honour, but I just cannot. But there is things that speak for themselves, and I cannot ----
JUDGE COWELL: I have got the emails and I can read them.
MISS FLORES: There is more. I would like to help. If at any point - I will bear that question in mind - I can cut to the chase, I certainly will, if I have got a chase to cut to.
Okay, so Dave Wagg was visiting, the environmental health. We had a case of water and electricity mixing together. It was in the local paper: picture of me with the electrics and the water. There was a lot of people in the background. Must have felt a bit of pressure in the office. But the leak was fixed the day before Mr. Dave Wagg was due for a site inspection. He had invited yourselves along to that inspection, and also the electrical engineering, national electrical engineering, people.
JUDGE COWELL: David --?
MISS FLORES: Dave Wagg.
JUDGE COWELL: I will take it from you for a moment that he visited the day after a leak was cured. Have I got it right?
MISS FLORES: No, he visited the day before.
JUDGE COWELL: The day before, sorry, a leak was cured. And which leak was that? Was that the electricity cupboard?
MISS FLORES: Sorry, your Honour, I just need to get some information from ...
JUDGE COWELL: All right, yes.
MISS FLORES: Just to say, Miss Cracy was just pointing out that Dave Wagg had written to the defendant to say that he was coming out for an inspection and, the day before that inspection, the leak was fixed. It was found and fixed.
JUDGE COWELL: And was that the leak in the electricity cupboard?
MISS FLORES: That is exactly the leak, your Honour,
JUDGE COWELL: Leak in electricity. And I think we know that that was 24th June, when Cube Construction and All Done Design came, and it is mentioned in your email of 7th July.
MISS FLORES: Yes. Is ...
A No, no, it's fine.
Q Okay, so, your Honour, Matthew writes an email to Anna Norrie. As you were earlier on about to suggest, Plexus Law were involved, but I think ... got cut. Plexus Law: who are they?
A I think they were the solicitors representing the insures and Farr.
Q So they are RSA solicitors. And, around about that time, there was a tri‑party meeting between Barnett of CHA, RSA, UKU who had already sent us a final letter saying that they were not involved. They had already sent us, in 2007, a final - I do not know if you are aware - response. It is part of a financial ombudsman thing - "Give me your final response. What do you say?" So they actually sent a letter saying they were not involved in 2007 and they were not going to deal with the claim. So there was this tri-party meeting and Anna Norrie, of Plexus Law, who would you say, organised that?
A I can't remember who organised it.
JUDGE COWELL: Were you there?
A I don't know how many meetings that there were before, but I do know that we did have a meeting. I can't remember exactly when it was.
Q You were there.
A Yes, but I remember attending a meeting to try and resolve the matter and to try and figure out who was actually - which insurers were under cover for the various incidents that had occurred. I think this happened after the injunction proceedings. I can't remember.
MISS FLORES: That was later.
A Yes, but it was ----
Q We have not led to that yet.
Q Okay, so you met them only much later anyway.
Q Okay, but that tri-party meeting that was around that time when Oliver got involved, that is when Plexus Law got involved and that is when everybody decided to club together, if you like: get UKU involved, get RSA involved, get yourselves involved and even us for a short amount of time, until I threatened RSA, which probably was not the best thing to do.
A I don't know. All I know is that the aim of the meeting was to try and resolve the various points that you had brought up and to confirm whether or not it had already been dealt with, whether or not it was pending and which of the insurers should be dealing with it.
Q Yes, but we still did not get the floor fixed as a result of all of it. Okay, right, so just to say Matthew Greenland, who was is in touch with you, is also, at that time, in touch with Anna Norrie, and he says: "Despite our best efforts, the claimant keeps chasing our client direct on a regular basis," that would be yourselves.
JUDGE COWELL: Is this p.850?
MISS FLORES: Sorry, I did not have a page.
JUDGE COWELL: I see, you are quoting from something.
MISS FLORES: I am quoting from just before 13th May 2008: "The claimant keeps chasing our client, direct, on a regular basis, so it does not appear that the matter has gone away. Can you chase, please?" So that is when we started getting quite a lot of letters from Anna Norrie of Plexus Law, who wanted us to stay away from yourselves.
Now, way before that, on 13th May 2008, he says, "Should the flooring pre‑date - I'll be happy to deal with the material losses," and then he goes on about being concerned that this was not raised before January - in January and photos, confirmation denial. I think we have been through that page. You reply on 4th June, a month later, and, as I said, you were quite new to it all, so I purport that they were setting you up against us to protect you or them, or both. Okay, I am nearly finished.
Now, what is the - QuestGates was involved around that time as well.
A I didn't even know who QuestGates were. No, it's not someone - people that I had to deal with.
Q You had not heard of them.
Q Okay, so, actually, no, you are right, that was before. Right, Monique, here we go and I have not got much more. Do you know, as assistant property manager - sorry, assistant commercial manager, sorry I - do you know about the Fire Precautions Act 1971 or orders made under the Act, or under s.78 of the Health and Safety Act 1974? I know that is a mouthful, but do you know ‑‑?
A I know of the more recent ones which they put into place in regards to fire‑risk assessments on buildings, on multi-tenancy buildings.
Q Is that 2006?
A Yes, 2006, because I remember I was at one of the conferences to get the lowdown on what exactly the requirements were.
Q But you are aware that there is no fire certificate for that building.
A From what I've been told. Obviously we were trying to get in - we contacted ... that deals with it, which is part of our asset management department, and they said that - their response to me was that, as a large housing association, they are allowed some leeway in the timeframe of when they get these assessments done but they're aware that it has to be done and they'd been told to start with the larger properties and work their way down, so one hadn't been done for Cromer Street or the residential areas yet.
A Yes, that was the explanation that I was given, but obviously it's not a commercial management ...
Q Because I know what you were going to say there. It's not a commercial, but it is actually integral to the communal part.
A That's correct, yes.
Q The fire exit.
A That's correct, yes.
Q The fire lighting.
Q The fire escape.
Q And fire boards in the commercial, which we are not sure are (fireproof *), and ventilation to go (in and out *)- so that in the event you get a fireball and then the building go up because there is no fireboard. It is a bit dangerous, is it not? It could be.
A I don't know the layout of Cromer Street or the residential, so I don't know what's in place and what isn't in place there, but I - you know, as I said, the explanation that I was given as to why it wasn't done is because, you know, the, you know, the authorities give housing associations sort of leeway to get through them as quick as possible and they do the large, you know, 50-floor residential buildings that we have, first, and then they work their way down to the smaller ones and, you know, on doing some searches internally, we couldn't locate a historic fire certificate: whether it's got lost ----
Q We have asked for it ----
A Yes, whether it's got lost, whether one ever existed, I don't know. I can't comment on that.
Q We have asked for it in, I think, around 2005 when we had the issue of the fire door. Now, obviously, you are commercial; that is residential. Two slightly ‑‑‑‑
A Wherever there's communal areas and then it's going to, you know ...
Q It is going to affect each other.
A That's correct, yes.
Q So what I was going to say, I wonder if the premises were subject to the Fire Precautions Act 1971 orders made thereafter. Are they subject --?
A I would assume so because it has a communal, you know - definitely the residential parts upstairs. Again, I don't know the exact layout of the - of whether or not the commercial premises - because I know that the two units that you've got, they interconnect at the back, somehow.
Q They do - well, through a corridor.
A Yes, so I don't know in regards to the other commercial bits at the bottom, whether or not they do or they don't. I don't know where, if - you know, so I don't know the layout, so I don't know if they're residential, which need access in case of emergency, or what-have-you, so I can't ----
Q I suppose, us being at the bottom, if a fire took place at the bottom, it would go up.
A Yes, but definitely the new laws and new regulations would, you know, call for some sort of ...
Q Fire alarms.
A Yeah, to be in place.
Q Smoke detectors.
Q Emergency lighting.
A To be in place.
Q Fire-fighting equipment.
A Various things, yes, just to comply.
Q Fire blankets.
A I'm not sure about fire blankets.
Q I am not quite sure about fire blankets.
A Not sure about fire - but I definitely ----
Q I know a boy that burned to death and a fire blanket could have saved him. I always bear that in mind. But, anyway, we have got those things inside.
A But anything communal?
Q That's health and safety. We have got our own health and safety fire-fighting equipment, electric, you know, all the rights specs. But go on.
A Yes, anything that's communal within - between residential and commercial, yes, it would be our responsibility, but anything that's, say, commercial, anything like your own smoke detectors, would be down to the commercial tenant to fit in.
Q If it is a fitting ...
A Yes, fixture and fitting and it's obviously ...
Q But the standards are that those are actually meant to be supplied, as far as I know.
A I don't know.
Q Anyway, let us move on from there. Do you think we were given unlawful tactics to pay rent?
A What do you mean: "unlawful tactics"?
Q The doubling of the rent if you don't fix the floor scenario.
A Oliver was just, you know - I didn't hear that --
JUDGE COWELL: That is not really a matter you can ...
A -- conversation but, you know, he wanted - I think, at that point, we got to a point where just "let's just get on with it" and, you know, we can't just double your rent, you know, because it's down to comparable evidence, it's what the market allows for and obviously you could - you know, whatever s.25 notices were served on you, you could always, you know, make representations against that in court because if the comparable evidence wasn't there --
MISS FLORES: Money, the court, money, solicitors.
A -- you know, if the comparable evidence wasn't there then, you know, we can't justify charging you a rent that's over and above what everybody else is paying within the area, so ...
Q But the two were mixed up together. I fixed the floor ...
A I can't - you need to ask Oliver why he said that. When ----
Q Yes, I will, but I take - unlawful tactics were made. I called it "improper inducement". I think I wrote to you a number of times and went bonkers about it. You probably remember.
A Yes, but, at the end of the day, he couldn't say, you know - it couldn't be done because again, as I said, it's all comparable evidence.
Q On 30th October 2008 at 3.19 p.m., I put the subject "disgrace" ----
A Yes, I remember that one, yes.
Q Well, I mean, I should not laugh but, you know, obviously I am on antidepressants, so I am all right to laugh. I point out that we will be billing you for the illegal breaking of our locks, so what is the idea of nailing the backdoor down?
A This is when we repossessed the property.
Q Yes, and also threatening court, and I say to you, "Why did you not approach the forfeiture legally and also break in for the second time, especially since I had delivered proof of payment on the 31st, 2008, of £6,125, which I didn't not feel we had to pay because the cessor of rent clause" - there is an email from RSA, which is 21st September 2006, and they are the first people to point out - they say: "Lastly, can the insured [meaning yourselves] advise whether the premises were unusable at the time and whether the rent was suspended. I assume that there is a cessor of rent clause in the lease." So, I mean, you know now - I am sure you know all of it now but then, as I do ... and it is really boring, is it not? But what we are saying is that, even as far back as 2006, that rent was constantly demanded from us, and also that we brought in - and you may have seen the letter from Steeles Law. Do you remember?
A Yes, I remember receiving a fax from Steeles Law when we - we you did fall behind in the rent and we - you know, basically what we do is send out generic letters 14 days after the quarter date, to remind those in arrears that, if they don't pay within seven days, then, you know, we will take further action against them. That's the standard generic letter that goes out to all tenants.
Q Sorry, back on the same subject of the transfer of the £6,125, you confirmed that the transfer and proof of payment was made on 31st August, in an email to me.
MISS BHALOO: September.
MISS FLORES: October.
MISS BHALOO: I think you said August.
MISS FLORES: I said October because it was October we got broke into and then it was November we got broke into, my words. That is what it felt like.
31st October, you say, yes, proof of payment has been received.
A I mean, our position was, at the time when the bailiffs were originally instructed, no payment had been received from yourselves, and we had effectively forfeited the lease. The monies that you sent us, because I remember - because I wanted to kind of like detach myself from the situation. I got our rent supervisor to give you a call to --
A Yes, Clarence Smith - in order to ascertain exactly because I remember you said something about you had sent us cheques, which we'd never received.
Q Clarence said that apparently lots of cheques had recently gone missing from his department.
A Well, can't ...
Q That is what he said to me. When I was rushing into the High Court to get an injunction --
Q -- that is what he said to me on the phone, lots of - because I was the same as you, checking, "What's going on? We've paid." Obviously, we knew you meant business and we thought, "Okay, here we go again. We'll pay again." We always say, "As a gesture of goodwill, we will pay the" - but really it is bullying because we do not feel we should pay rent when we cannot use the premises.
A But I think - I don't know, but I don't recall at that time whether or not you had asked for the cessors of rent clause to be triggered.
Q Steeles Law. Steeles Law had written to the claimant in July 2008 - sorry, when was --?
A I don't - I remember the letter from Steeles Law but it was only to say that you'll be looking into - they'll be looking into it and then they'll get back to us, and some months passed. That was the original arrears letter that was sent in July and then we hadn't heard anything back from Steeles Law again; that's when we went ahead.
Q I know, the solicitors are completely - I do not even know what we pay. They tried to charge us £7,000 for sending two letters. I mean, it is ridiculous.
A We were waiting for - obviously, to receive something from you, and when the September quarter came and again no payment, that was when I was instructed to ...
Q Send out a reminder letter.
A Reminder letters again and then, if no payment was received and nothing else was received from the solicitors, then to go ahead and forfeit the leases by a peaceful re-entry.
Q At this time, Steeles Law had written to yourselves in August 21st, 2008.
A Yes, round about that time, yes.
Q Yes, so it was two months later we were evicted. But Steeles Law asked for you to, kindly, confirm such action, because you had already threatened the action, would be held in abeyance. Do you remember that?
A Yes, I remember the letter and, as I said, obviously we didn't proceed seven days after the letter and we didn't hear back from them. Okay, let's given them some time to - and see what they're going to say to - what yourselves are going to say - come to us with.
Q Yes, well, we had sacked them by then.
A And we hadn't heard. I also remember August Bank Holiday, I rang you and left a message for you and obviously forewarn you, to say, you know, "We need to sort this out," and I remember getting a - I think I went away on holiday that Bank Holiday weekend, too, and you called me. I think you were in France or something, or you were at a funeral or something like.
Q Something like that.
A And you said that, you know, you'd been away and that, when you get back, you'll give me a call, and, yeah, I remember that being the August Bank Holiday because I wanted to speak to you to try to resolve the rent issue because I knew that ----
Q They meant business.
A Yes, I knew what was going to happen next. And obviously we left it. You know, we were waiting on further communication from Steeles Law, which we never received.
Q Yes, because I sacked them.
A As I said, the September quarter came. September arrears letters went out and that's when I was asked to ----
Q To do the business.
A Yes, to effect the forfeiture.
Q Monique, just to clarify with you, we sacked those Steeles Law solicitors because they tried to charge us £7,000 for what was two letters, and you remember those letters.
Q So that was good reason to get them out. But what we did was we used their template from a letter that they had drafted for us, and we sent that to Mick Sweeney.
Q Now, the letter to Mick Sweeney was received by Mick Sweeney and Oliver Barnet - it was addressed to both of them - a few days before the first eviction and it made it very very clear to them - I do not know if you have ever seen the letter, or maybe you saw it after, but maybe you were not aware of what was going on. But we sent what was a very expensive letter - had been paid for and drafted - to Mick Sweeney and Oliver Barnet. I think it is important to locate that letter just to make you aware of how shocked we were then.
MISS BHALOO: ...
MISS FLORES: It is in there?
MISS BHALOO: Is it the 24th October one?
MISS FLORES: Could be, could be. I thought I had it.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, B.2, 345.
MISS FLORES: B.2, 345.
MISS BHALOO: Yes, your Honour, it is also exhibited to Ms. Jamera's statement.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes.
MISS FLORES: Just to highlight the points that I can remember from the top of my head - would you like some time to read it, your Honour?
JUDGE COWELL: I am aware of it. What can this witness say about it?
MISS FLORES: This witness was ----
JUDGE COWELL: The letter speaks for itself.
MISS FLORES: Yes, this witness was the assistant of Oliver Barnet at the time and, as Monique has pointed out, was very much involved.
JUDGE COWELL: Did you receive this letter?
A I personally didn't receive it. I think I can - I remember Oliver speaking to - overhearing a conversation between Oliver and Mick about it but obviously it wasn't something that ----
Q It was not something you were responsible for dealing with.
A That's correct, yes, because obviously my name came up in it but - and obviously Oliver - Mick's our chief exec and obviously he wanted to clarify what points in this letter were relevant to ----
MISS FLORES: To who? To you or --?
A To me, to Oliver sort of exactly ...
Q Did he come to see you about it?
A No, it was just a telephone conversation between him and Oliver, which, as I said, I overheard and obviously Oliver knew exactly what I had been doing my side because obviously we share an office. At the end of the day ----
Q So he got that letter. He phoned Oliver at the office.
Q And he asks, "Okay, what part of this is" - because it is a serious letter and it is also asking for Mick Sweeney to give back 59,500, in total, of rent and it says that it would be brought - the cessor of rent clause would be 'effected'; if action was taken, that it would be brought to the attention of the court. There is all sorts of proper legal stuff in this.
A Again, I can't comment on what ----
Q No, understand very much, now, that you had not even seen it, probably, at the time.
A Oliver and Mick had decided, but what I do know is that Oliver and myself did go through the lease and, you know, went through the relevant clauses and ...
Q Tried to ascertain whether or not it was ----
A Yes, exactly, and, as far as we were - as far as Oliver was concerned - and you can put the questions to him - was that ...
Q It was a straightforward matter of non-payment of rent.
A That's correct, yes, without - you know, and it says in the lease, you know, should be paid without set-off, blah-blah-blah.
Q Yes, but it did not really matter, but, in the same lease, there was a cessor of rent clause and everybody was aware that we could not operate from the business, and RSA have confirmed in 2006 that - are you guys operating the cessor of rent clause, which it seems that was never at any point effected. Do you see, from our point of view?
A Yes, I understand what you're saying, but I also - I wasn't - because I remember you were always saying that you had bookings and inquiries and stuff, and whether or not those were being done or not, I didn't, you know, know whether or not you were getting any business or not, and, again a presumption on my part, I was thinking, "Okay, it's been February till" - When was this letter: October?
A I'm sure they've been, you know, they must have been trading because I'm sure they - you know, we would have - because that's the period of cover where Zurich were under cover, and Zurich weren't even aware of the situation, so, you know - and I think Oliver said that sometimes - again, Oliver will refer to this when he's in the witness stand, that, you know, he, you know, may have driven by and seen events happening, so ----
Q That would be at the other premises.
A I don't know, I don't know. Again, I don't know.
Q Well, there was no floor in my premise.
A So we don't know whether or not ...
Q There was no floor in 104, no floor, that means ugly. I mean, really, you know, you do not trade. Next door - and I think maybe that is where the confusion was. If you have got events going on - I think we had Channel 4, you know, so they are glamorous events, not just - you know, quite outlandish events as well. So, yes, maybe there was - it sounds like there was confusion to you.
A Yes, it was our presumption that you guys were still trading.
Q Still making money.
A Yes, that was our presumption.
Q Taking the rise out of ...
Q Right, I see, so that was a total assumption that we were making money and really should be paying rent to a residential social landlord, after all.
Q Yes, okay, fair enough. But you acknowledge that, now that I have said to you that there was no floor in the gallery, you do see that there was no trading taking place.
A Yes, I can understand that, you know, but again, as I said, I haven't witnessed it myself.
Q Just for his Honour.
A No, I haven't witnessed it myself, but that was the presumption that was made, but I can understand that, if there was no floor - I don't know what the floor surfaces were like, I haven't witnessed it, so - but that was our presumption, that was our presumption: that you were trading. But I can understand, if there was no floor and the underlay wasn't suitable, that you were unable to trade, yes.
Q On the airbricks, which must have absolutely ...(blown*) the heads off the housing association because I notice there is a lot of emails between a lot of very high‑up people, all of a sudden, but - Mike Brooks, various people - I cannot remember offhand.
A It was people that were there at the time because, obviously, you brought something up about us.
A Building regulations and grants that had been given to us to ... and obviously neither myself or Oliver, who hadn't been there at the time, knew anything about it, so it was again a matter of trying to find out what was going on, and I knew that Oliver - that's something again that Oliver was dealing with and I don't know how that ended, but obviously, when I received the email from Chantelle about it ----
Q We were asking the location.
A -- yes, about it, I again went to Oliver for his advice and he said, "Well, it's Health and Safety and it's their obligation because the property is old and, again, you know, they took the property as they found it, so it's up to them if they want to ..."
Q Yes, that was the answer we got. Good answer. It gets everyone out of things but, for us, we plead differently, obviously, that it is a structural defect and it was known to the housing association from - certainly foreseeable and it was sold to us as A.3, which needs minimum requirement ventilation, and the place stinks and it has got no air, so I wish you could come down and see - I mean, smell it. It is pretty bad and a lot of mould. But, anyway, that is your - that was the line: Health and Safety, your responsibility and do not know if there is any airbricks but obviously, clearly, there was not.
Q Right, okay, that was August 2008. Sorry, another issue: the boxing of the 12 water pipes.
A That, in the electricity cupboard.
Q That is right. Were you surprised, being a new and private commercial ... that that leak had not been found, since it was in the room for - let us think of trace and remedy.
A I remember you telling me about that it had just stopped by itself and you couldn't remember - you didn't know whether or not someone had come to sort it out, they couldn't - they didn't sort it out ... Thames Water involved and then we were contemplating getting Thames Water to shut off the whole water supply to the block, in order to find out whether or not it - where it was coming from and then, in the end, one of our contractors was able to locate it and fix it, so ...
Q Was there any communication with Camden Council, Thames Water?
A Definitely Thames Water. I can't remember if we had to contact Camden Council about it but definitely Thames Water were involved because I remember I spoke to the guy. I think it was the same guy who - the same Thames Water surveyor that had been out previously.
Q That guy went there so many times, you would have thought he was living there but, yes, him. He is a nice guy.
A Yes, and I remember I had to send Thames Water an email in order to request - to find out how and when we could do that and, obviously, would need advance notice so that the residents know and give them times and dates and information of when the water's going to be done.
Q Yes, but is there any communication of all of that because it sounds like it was a big operation, but there is no evidence of it at all?
A I remember the Thames Water surveyor - it was over the phone.
Q That was our contact. I think I gave you that contact because we were in touch with him so often.
A I believe so, yes, I believe so. Yes, I spoke to him over the phone and then he told me that if it was a case where we wanted Thames Water to switch off the water then we'd have to send an email to customer services, which I did, but I don't know whether or not there's a reference to that email in the files.
Q There is really nothing of that whole palaver ----
A Because I think what happened was, in the end, one of our contractors was able to find the leak and so we didn't need Thames Water, in the end.
Q But there was lots of stuff being said around the time of, again, the environmental health coming in. There was lots of stuff being said about £10,000 worth of redirecting. What was that about?
A We had a quotation from All Done Design, again.
Q That is a lot of money.
A Yes, and obviously ----
JUDGE COWELL: Sorry, the quotation: who from?
A From All Done Design.
Q From All Done.
A They inspected and I can't remember exactly what the details of the quotation ‑‑‑‑
Q Was this the quotation for a very large sum of money?
A Yes, that was for £10,000, because, you know ----
MISS FLORES: To redirect a leak into a manhole, through some sort of plastic ----
A And they wanted to dig up the pavement as well, something like that.
Q No, nothing to do with the pavement.
A ... I can't remember.
Q No, nothing to do with the pavement.
JUDGE COWELL: Anyway, nothing along those lines had to be done.
A No, because we got a second opinion.
MISS FLORES: By All Done Design.
A No, no, we got - All Done Design was the original contractor, that was £10,000. They found the leak.
JUDGE COWELL: Who was the second opinion?
A The second was a guy called Jim Webb.
MISS FLORES: Yes.
A Yes, Jim Webb, and he diagnosed it differently to All Done Design and it only cost a couple of hundred pounds and remedied it quite quickly.
Q What was it? What was his diagnosis?
JUDGE COWELL: Just a moment.
A I can't remember.
Q Just a moment. Different diagnosis. Yes?
A And it, you know, cost only a couple of hundred pounds for him to fix it.
Q £200 to fix it. Was he the man who did fix it?
A Yes, he was, he ...
MISS FLORES: Not Jim.
A Jim or his ...
Q Jim Webb. He did not ----
A Jim Webb, well, his firm.
Q It was All Done.
A No, it wasn't All Done that fixed it.
Q All Done did it.
A No, definitely wasn't.
Q It was Cube Construction?
A No, Cube was the people that did the floors. Cube weren't involved.
Q They were not involved.
A It was definitely Jim Webbs.
JUDGE COWELL: I am sorry, what was it Jim Webb fixed?
A The pipe in the electricity room. It was definitely him.
Q On 24th June?
A No, it wasn't on the - it wasn't, because All Done was the quotation for the £10,000.
MISS FLORES: Really?
Q It is just I remember the two guys, and I remember singing the praises of All Done Design, quite clearly.
A I think All Done ----
JUDGE COWELL: You were not there. This is simply from your memory of the letters.
MISS FLORES: Monique effected the contractors to come out.
A Actually it was Jim Webb that was instructed to deal with it as the more competitive quote.
JUDGE COWELL: I see, Jim Webb was instructed.
A It definitely wasn't All Done.
MISS FLORES: £10,000: what was that for?
A I can't remember, Jo.
Q Did it seem like a lot of money to you?
A Yes, because I remember emails going back, saying, you know, "We want to get another quotation from another - you know, want to get a second opinion because the quotation was excessive."
JUDGE COWELL: Anyway, it cost £200 to fix it.
A And then that was the electricity cupboard.
Q You sent him out.
Q "I sent Jim Webb to do it."
MISS FLORES: But, as I say, on a lot of that stuff to do with shutting down the block, quotes from these companies, £10,000, they are not in the evidence.
A Didn't know this was going to happen, so, you know, they could be deleted.
Q You have got the same excuse as me and it is true: we did not know this was going to happen, so we did not think, "I know, I'll save all the evidence." But you do not have the evidence of the quotes or --?
A Everything that we have ----
JUDGE COWELL: You mean documents.
MISS FLORES: Evidence of the quotes just to prove that those things did happen at the time.
MISS BHALOO: Your Honour, there were contemporaneous emails which we looked through yesterday.
JUDGE COWELL: Yes, I thought so. Is the question, "Have you got a quotation from Cube Construction?" was it?
MISS FLORES: No, it is ----
A No, it was All Done Design was the first ----
JUDGE COWELL: All Done. But have you got the quotation for the £10,000? Was it in writing?
A It was in writing.
Q It does not really matter now because ... was done. But, as I understand it, that was your question, "Have you got the document?"
MISS FLORES: Yes, there was a lack of evidence --
JUDGE COWELL: It really does not matter.
MISS FLORES: -- but Monique said that - almost, I would say it. You do not think you are going to need - and it might have been binned or whatever.
A Possibly, yes, possibly.
Q And just a proposal that the fireboard in the electricity cupboard - and that is the last question - the environmental wrote a letter to say that the electric should be isolated from the water - Do you remember that? - and that fireboards should be put up with a certain electrical - just isolated.
Q You do remember that from ----
A I vaguely remember a letter filtering through --
Q From the environmental.
A -- to us about that, and it was passed on to our maintenance department.
Q Maintenance, okay.
A Yes, or surveyors or something like that, and they said that - I think they said that everything complied, and that's when, I don't know, there was some - we were trying to ascertain, you know, who's responsible for that electricity cupboard anyway, so ...
Q Yes, and, four years later - no, it is not four years later. 7th July 2008, I think we were agreed that the leak was traced. There is no ventilation in that electricity cupboard, which is a structural defect. And, just finally, that four years since the very beginning incident, it was traced, which you played a part in.
A Again, as I said, all I recall is that, you know, you said that it started and it may have stopped and then it started again --
A -- and then we found it and then it was resolved.
Q All right, thank you very much.
MISS BHALOO: I have no re-examination. Does your Honour have any questions?
JUDGE COWELL: No, thank you very much.
A Thank you.
MISS BHALOO: Your Honour, we have Mr. Ukhueleigbe. coming this afternoon and, although Mr. Barnet has just arrived, he has an appointment this afternoon, so I do not want to start him and have him go off again.
JUDGE COWELL: Two o'clock.
MISS BHALOO: Yes, your Honour, thank you.