Arthur -v- Layte PZ200604

52 Fore Street Redruth

52 Fore Street Redruth had been purchased in 1988 by Mr and Mrs Layte and Mr and Mrs Arthur on a 50 / 50 basis. The original intention was to change it from a shop to a wine bar but this fell through and it was rented as a shop quite successfully up to about June 2000 when Mr Arthur said the tenant, a Mr Potts, had stopped paying the rent and had moved from his previous address to somewhere unknown. We believed him but were later to find out Mr Arthur knew Mr Pott's new address and phone number

At around the same date that the tenant stopped paying the rent (or Mr and Mrs Arthur decided to stop collecting it?) a Mr Everard, who operated from the shop opposite, had expressed an interest in purchasing our shop albeit at too low a price. Mr Everard wanted the shop for his own purposes and would not have wanted a tenanted property.

Although no rent was being paid the shop remained open and was being operated by a Mr Farr and a Mr Amor who Mr Arthur said were not tenants themselves but were working for Mr Potts either as his managers or licensees.

No rent was paid for about 18 Months. Mr Arthur insisted he was "on the case" but had been unable to trace Mr Potts (despite knowing his address and telephone numbers!). He had declined our offer to try and trace him (We knew the area of his last address well and had contacts there).

On about 25 October 2001 J Layte noticed a postcard in the window of 52 Fore Street that gave notice the shop would close on 2 November 2001 and it was agreed with Mr Arthur we would attend the shop on that date together with an "independent" witness (i.e. not an owner of the shop!) to seize the tenant's property in lieu of the outstanding rent and other debts. We would take photos (see below) of the interior of the shop to show the condition of the stock at takeover to avoid any future arguments over (a) what was there and (b) The condition of what was there.

On the same date (2 November 2001) Mr Arthur and Mr Layte agreed to put the shop on the market following redecoration of the facade. Mr Layte agreed to redecorate the facade and Mr Arthur agreed to try to trace the tenant and recover the outstanding debt which he estimated to be roughly 16,000.

Mr Arthur refused to pay his half of the scaffolding cost (about 160 for one month) which J Layte considered was needed for the redecoration of the facade and insisted that J Layte should use his cherry picker (Access platform mounted on the rear of a large van). Mr Arthur said he would operate the cherry picker himself and the redecoration would only take a couple of days. The problem was that the cherry picker, because of its size, blocked the narrow part of Redruth main street adjacent to the shop for all vehicles larger than a car and the only day of the week it was even slightly practical to use it was Sunday.

As it turned out the redecoration involved much more than the quick pressure wash that Mr Arthur thought was all that was needed and took six months with the cherry picker used most Sundays as opposed to the one month it should have taken with scaffolding (weather permitting in December).

By June 2002 the redecoration was almost complete, it was agreed to appoint an estate agent to market the property but the Arthurs and the Laytes could not agree a value. The Layte's estate agent had valued it at double what the Arthurs thought it was worth. The Arthurs appointed their estate agent (at their value) without permission or even informing the Laytes. The Arthurs then threatened to sell the property at auction with no reserve and, according to Mrs Arthur, "there was nothing the Laytes could do to stop them". There was and we did.

On 14 June 2002 Mr Arthur made an agreement with the solicitors acting for the tenant but declined to tell the Laytes (equal landlords) about it.

On 21 June 2002 Mr Arthur wrote asking for a list of items removed on 2 November 2001 "for safe keeping".

On 27 June 2001 Mr Arthur wrote that it would be theft if the items (that we owned half of but didn't know) were not returned to the shop.

On 1 July 2001 Mr Lanyon and Mr Layte returned the items that had been removed on 2 November 2001..

On 15 July 2002 Mr Arthur instigated a Court action against the Laytes

On 26 July 2002 Mr Arthur issued an Injunction against the Laytes. The Injunction was refused but the Claim was not dismissed as it should have been.

A short chronology of the above can be viewed here. A longer chronology can be viewed here. A more detailed chronology of the Court case can be viewed here

 

 

 

2 November 2001

A photo of Mr Arthur and Mrs Stevens at 52 Fore Street Redruth counting the till money. Some cash (76) was removed and paid to Mrs Stevens for wages due and she signed a hand written note that she had received this payment and then left the premises.

After she had left Mr Arthur "cashed up" and put the till money in sealed bags and replaced them in the till. We changed the locks and Mr Lanyon who was employed as an independent witness read the meters etc.

When all was done Mr Arthur suggested that rather than take any more cash from the till to pay Mr Lanyon that he take a step ladder and a fire extinguisher as payment for acting as an independent witness to the landlords seizing the stock, paying Mrs Stevens etc.

Mr Arthur suggested that J Layte should take the till (+contents in sealed bags) back to his place for safe keeping and also some other items in the shop which might be more tempting to a burglar that fabric. Mr Arthur helped load the till, the ladder, the fire extinguisher and the other items onto Mr Lanyon's van.

We were later to find out that during the course of Mr Arthur's negotiations with the tenant the solicitors acting for the tenant enquired as to what had happened to their last days takings? Mr Arthur replied that he had entrusted the takings with their employee who he assumed had paid them into the tenant's bank account. Mr Arthur knew that this was not true and was effectively accusing the employee of theft.

On 10 August 2003 the FRM was removed from the shop because of the reasons explained elsewhere. Mr Arthur had removed the other contents over a year before and if he really thought it was valuable and he owned it then it is surprising that he did not remove it himself in this time.

On 19 December 2003, over 18 months after he could have removed it himself, Mr Arthur reported his FRM stolen to the Police.

On 20 December 2003 (the next day) Mr Arthur writes to the solicitors acting for the tenant and whilst not apologising for suggesting their client's employee had stolen the till money now accuses J Layte of stealing it.

Thank you Mr Arthur. I think the World should know what a nice chap you are.

 

 

2 November 200152

 

Some photos of the stock and fittings at 52 Fore Street on the day it was seized in lieu of the debt owed by the Layte's and the Arthur's tenant.

 

Mr Arthur was to tell the Judge at the counterclaim that he had given it all away (with the exception of the FRM) to a Mr Fox in exchange for his clearing the property of this worthless rubbish (old unfashionable and smelt musty). The Judge believed him.

 

As can be seen the stock is not old, it on a rolls and thus new. The shop was a very dry building (only one wall being external and there was very little stock stored against that wall). The stock did not smell musty. Whether it was all unfashionable or not is a matter of opinion but since the last half day's takings suggest the shop was binging in 600-700 per day it is obvious some people thought the fabric fashionable. Mr and Mrs Layte even bought some themselves!

 

 

Photo 14 June 2002 - Shop Back "Shed"

Mr Arthur told the Judge he gave all the stock to a Mr Fox in exchange for his clearing the shop.

When the Layte's solicitor asked Mr Fox about what he had been given and its condition he said he didn't know whether it was all that had been in the shop but what he was given was virtually worthless and damp because it had been stored in an area that had ivy growing inside.

There was only one area of the shop with ivy growing and this is a photo of it taken on 14 June 2002 (before Mr Arthur had removed anything). As can be seen there is no stock stored here on that date. Mr Arthur was seen clearing the shop on 10 July 2002 from the double doors (that lead to this "ivy" area). Perhaps Mr Arthur kept all the dry and valuable stock for himself and loaded the rack with the ivy growing on it with some old musty smelling unfashionable stock and it is this he gave to Mr Fox.

It would not have made sense to remove the stock stored in the shop (see above photos) by the double doors as that would have involved carrying it about 100 feet to the back of the main sales area and then down the "alleyway" to the double doors.