Today the Supreme Court has ruled that Hastings Borough Council must pay compensation for losses incurred by the former pier-based business Stylus Sports Ltd, after the council used emergency powers to close Hastings Pier in 2006.
Gaby Hardwicke Solicitors secured the decision in favour of Manolete Partners, which succeeded Stylus Sports after Stylus went into liquidation in 2012. Manolete Partners has succeeded in the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and now, the highest court in the land.
Stylus Sports, which operated a bingo hall and amusement arcade on the pier, suffered substantial losses when the council closed the pier during its peak trading season. The decision to close was made after the pier’s then owner, the Panama-based company Ravenclaw, failed to comply with a notice served by the council requiring it to undertake a survey of the pier’s structure. The council used emergency powers under section 78 of the Buildings Act 1984 to close the pier in the early summer of 2006.
Gaby Hardwicke partner Paul Maynard, who acted for a number of tenants on the pier, including Stylus Sports in 2006, was at the Supreme Court when judgment was handed down.
He said: “We have succeeded today on a point that was first argued at the very outset of this case. At the time we pointed out to the Borough Council that the exercise of their emergency powers was premature and went too far.
“Had the council acted promptly when concerns about the pier’s structure were first brought to its attention, after Stylus Sports commissioned its own engineer’s report, it is quite possible that the closure of the pier could have been avoided altogether or, at the very least, remedial work could have been undertaken that gave the traders a fighting chance of survival.
“Yes, the council were concerned about the ability of the pier’s structure to withstand large numbers of visitors attending events at the far end of the pier that summer, but the steps that they took to close the entirety of the pier, having done nothing to act upon Stylus Sports’ concerns, caused entirely foreseeable and avoidable loss to the traders.
“We hope the Borough Council will now see sense regarding their statutory obligation to pay compensation without further tax payers’ money being spent on wholly avoidable legal costs.”