Montpellier Estates ordered to pay council costs over Leeds Arena

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 Jan Fletcher’s Montpellier Estates.

Mr Justice Supperstone, sitting in the High Court in Leeds yesterday, made the award against Montpellier Estates (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 Montpellier 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.”

Malcolm Simpson, partner at Leeds-based Walker Morris, solicitors to Montpellier Estates, said: “Today was the first stage of an appeal process and we anticipated that Judge Supperstone – who gave the original judgement – would refuse our right to appeal.

“ Montpellier Estates will now be taking this through the normal appeal process, which is to the Court of Appeal.”

Montpellier failed in its £43.5m damages bid against Leeds City Council over the contract to develop the city’s new arena in February.

In his original ruling on the case, 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.