A man who claims his human rights were infringed by the Viscount can continue to pursue claims for alleged negligence over a £4million valuation of a property that subsequently sold for £1.85m, the Royal Court has ruled.
Part of a long-running dispute, Alan Booth brought new proceedings against the Viscount, who he claimed had breached the Human Rights Law by denying him the opportunity to pursue surveyors David O Reynolds Ltd over a valuation he used to secure a loan of £2.8m in 2011.
Mr Booth was later the subject of bankruptcy proceedings when the extent of the disparity between the valuation he had received for Kings Oak in St Peter and its market value became apparent. In 2017, the Viscount obtained the Royal Court’s permission sell the property for £1.85m, in spite of its £4m valuation six years earlier.
In its judgment then, the court noted: "Mr Booth is concerned that the property is being substantially undersold by reference to the 2011 valuation of £4m. However, the history of the matter since then strongly suggests that that valuation was simply incorrect."
At a recent hearing, the Viscount, Advocate Matthew Swan, failed to have Mr Booth’s human rights claims struck out despite a decision by the Court of Appeal in October last year which found in the Viscount’s favour over similar issues.
However, the Master of the Royal Court, Advocate David Cadin, told Mr Booth that he now had six weeks in which to produce an amended order of justice clarifying his case.
The right to pursue any claim against surveyors David O Reynolds Ltd lies with the Viscount and not with Mr Booth because it arises out of bankruptcy proceedings administered by the Viscount.
Although last year Mr Booth failed to overturn the Royal Court’s decision declining to intervene when the Viscount decided not to assign to him the claim against the surveyors, Mr Booth initiated new proceedings in January, arguing that the Human Rights Law had been breached when he was denied the right to pursue his claim before the court.
Giving judgment on the Viscount’s application to strike out the case – made by Advocate David Wilson – the Master observed that Mr Booth’s latest pleading was "in very similar terms" to the one which had ultimately failed before both the Royal Court and the Court of Appeal, and he also characterised it as "outlining the cause of action in the barest of terms".
But Advocate Cadin, noting that Mr Booth had drafted his order of justice without professional assistance, nonetheless declined to give judgment in the Viscount’s favour.
"In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to strike out the claim now without giving Mr Booth an opportunity to clarify exactly what he is alleging and why, and to confirm that he is not seeking to raise any matter or issue that is, or might be, tainted by a cause of action estoppel, issue estoppel or [which] might otherwise amount to a collateral attack on a judgment of the Royal Court or the Court of Appeal. To the extent that any amended claim does not so confirm, it will be susceptible to a strikeout," he warned.
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