A legal wrangle between the owner of a food kiosk at La Pulente and St Brelade has cost the parish more than £27,000 in legal fees so far.
Revealed following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the legal bill is for an ongoing dispute over the HideOut's right to trade at the St. Ouen’s Bay beauty spot.
Karl Sutton's café opened at the top of the parish-owned car park in 2016. However, last summer, his permit to operate there - issued by the parish - was not renewed after a company called Shellhouse Ltd, owned by property developer Frank Laine, bought the next-door public toilets, which already had planning permission to become a café.
Originally told last summer that he had to leave the area completely, Mr Sutton called a parish meeting last October, using the ancient right to issue a ‘rêquete’, when parishioners backed a proposal for the HideOut to move further down the slipway.
Pictured: The requête, which was supported by former Constable Senator Steve Pallett.
Mr Sutton argues that the permit issued after that meeting had a condition that he only had to leave the slipway within 28 days of the new café, which will be operated by Nude Food, being completed.
He says that the Constable of St. Brelade, Mike Jackson, has reneged on that condition by giving him a time-limited permit, which was until 1 June but has now been extended to the end of August.
Mr Sutton took the Parish to court, asking for a judicial review of the Constable’s decision. This is due to be heard by the Royal Court in July.
However, he also asked the Court for an interim judgment which would allow him to return to his original location at the top of the car park until work to convert the toilet block started in earnest. This was rejected by the Court last month after it heard that significant work on the former public toilets was about to begin.
Addressing the issue of legal fees, Mr Jackson said: “We found ourselves being summoned to court so we’re obliged to defend ourselves. While the process is not yet over we will be making our best endeavour to recoup costs.”
Pictured: The dispute has reached the Royal Court, with the next hearing scheduled for July.
Mr Sutton said: “This whole court case was completely avoidable and the Constable had three chances to not let the issue get this far. My permit was clear and so was the rêquete, and there has been barely any work done in and around the toilets.”
“I would have been packing up in two weeks’ time if I hadn't asked for legal advice.”
In a previous court hearing, Mr Laine said that he had invested £1m in the café project and he hoped the conversion would be completed by September.
The response to the FOI request said: “The fee for the parish’s legal representation up to 28 April 2021 is £27,269.53; this covers the directions hearings on 1 April and 15 April 2021.
“Information is not held on the estimate of ongoing costs including for the Royal Court sitting on 22 July 2021. The costs will not be known until late July 2021 when the Royal Court determines the application and makes any order in relation to the costs to be met by the parish.”
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.