London firm Howard Kennedy has settled a multi-million pound High Court claim brought by a property developer over allegedly negligent advice, with the firm receiving an £850,000 contribution towards its costs.
Karis Developments Limited and Karis Southern Housing Projects Limited, of which Brighton-based developer Joshua Arghiros is the ‘controlling mind’, sued Howard Kennedy over a scheme to develop multiple sites owned by Lewes District Council (LDC) in East Sussex.
The claimants entered into contracts with the local authority and housing association Southern Housing Group in 2015, which the court heard included a deal for the sale of some of the development sites from LDC to the housing association.
Following a change in the leadership of the council that December, the agreement was terminated – which the claimants alleged was the result of Howard Kennedy’s negligent drafting, accusing the firm of giving ‘false reassurance’ about the deal.
Howard Kennedy disputed the claim in full and its barrister Jamie Carpenter QC told the court earlier this week that question of a change of political control of LDC was ‘a commercial risk … not a legal issue’.
Roger Mallalieu QC, for the claimants, told the High Court today that the parties had agreed a consent order under which ‘the claims in these proceedings be dismissed [and there be] no order as to costs’. He added that ‘it is a term of the settlement agreement that I, on behalf of my clients, make a statement in open court’.
‘The claimants and their director, Mr Joshua Arghiros, unequivocally withdraw all allegations made against Howard Kennedy LLP, its current and former partners and staff and undertake not to repeat them and will make a contribution to Howard Kennedy’s costs of £850,000,’ Mallalieu said. ‘The claimants and Mr Arghiros accept and agree that Howard Kennedy LLP are not liable in negligence.’
Mr Justice Trower said he would approve the order, adding: ‘The court is always pleased to see that the parties have been able to reach an accommodation that is satisfactory to both of them so that futher time and costs are not incurred.’
Craig Emden, managing partner of Howard Kennedy, told the Gazette that the firm was pleased with the ‘excellent outcome’ and praised its legal team which featured David Robinson, Paul Castellani and Jesal Parekh of Kennedys.
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