Leeds City Council awarded interim £2m costs in failed arena court case
A High Court judge has awarded Leeds City Council interim costs of £2m after a court case he said “should never have been brought” by a would-be developer of Leeds Arena.
Mr Justice Supperstone, sitting in the High Court in Leeds today, made the award against Montpellier Estates Ltd (MEL) following their failed attempt to sue the council over the awarding of development rights to the £60m Leeds Arena.
In awarding the costs- which are an interim payment pending a future decision on the total amount to be paid- the judge criticised MEL for pursuing the deceit element of their claim in the first place.
Mr Justice Supperstone said:
“I am left in no doubt that the claim for deceit should never have been brought.”
He ordered MEL to make the interim payment within 28 days and turned down their application for an appeal on the procurement element of their failed case* against Leeds City Council.
He also refused their application for a stay on payment of part of the costs pending a possible appeal to the Court of Appeal from them over the procurement issue only.
Leeds City Council leader Councillor Keith Wakefield said:
“We welcome the judge’s decision and council taxpayers will be pleased to hear that we are well on the way to recovering £2m of public money and will now be looking towards further recovery of our costs, which were well in excess of £4m.”
Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan commented:
“We also note the judge’s comments about his feeling that the deceit claim should never have been brought in the first place. This further reinforces the integrity of the council’s conduct on the decision to cancel the competition to develop the arena."
In his original ruling on the case in February Mr Justice Supperstone said that the council was perfectly entitled to bring the competitive tendering exercise to a close when other bids were found not to be good value for money and then develop the arena itself.
Leeds City Council last week formally handed over the completed arena building to SMG Europe, who will operate the venue. They will spend the next couple of months fitting it out to their requirements ahead of its first show by Bruce Springsteen on July 24.
Notes to editors
*Mr Justice Supperstone handed down a ruling on February 6 2013 dismissing entirely claims for more than £43.5 million in damages for alleged deceit and flawed procurement under European regulations2 brought by Montpellier Estates Ltd (MEL) against Leeds City Council (LCC).
He also rejected allegations of fraud and dishonesty against eight named individuals connected to LCC, including senior officers, a former council leader and professional consultants.
In a hearing in London’s High Court lasting nine weeks towards the end of 2012 18 LCC witnesses were cross-examined over the allegations which were then dismissed in their entirety under February's judgment.
The judge said that the council was perfectly entitled to bring the competitive tendering exercise to a close when other bids were found not to be good value for money and then develop the arena itself.
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