Cross-examination of Kane & Woodley, parties summarise their case in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm)
Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (case 3BI05210)
Birkenhead County Court
13th February 2014
Court Room 1
Mrs Kane is questioned by District Judge Woodburn
Mrs Kane asked why they would pay for a further twelve months of public liability insurance if the lease hadn’t been renewed? District Judge Woodburn said something brief to which Mrs Kane said that Wirral Council had been “ignoring us”. She said that Wirral Council could only get out of renewing a protected lease if they had broken the terms of the lease and referred to a letter from 2012. District Judge Woodburn referred to an agreement. Mrs Kane said yes, that they thought that Wirral Council agreed to renewal.
District Judge Woodburn asked Mrs Kane why she had not done as suggested in paragraph five (which refers to applying to the Court)? Mrs Kane said she had spoken with David Dickenson in April or May and as far as she knew the lease was going through. The first thing she knew it hadn’t was in August when she received an invoice for £700. She rang the number and was told it was for rent because they’d given up the land which was the first thing she knew. Two days after she received details about Wirral Council’s request for a possession order. District Judge Woodburn said that Mrs Kane could return to her seat and swap with Mrs Woodley.
Mrs Woodley takes the witness stand
Mrs Woodley said, “I swear by Almighty God to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. District Judge Woodburn asked her name to which she replied “Valerie Patricia Woodley”. He asked her to have a seat and pointed out that she had not made a witness statement. District Judge Woodburn referred Mrs Woodley to a document at page fifteen and asked if it was her handwriting? She answered, “Yeah”. District Judge Woodburn asked her to go over the page to page seventeen and eighteen and asked if that was her handwriting? Mrs Woodley gave the same answer.
District Judge Woodburn asked if it was a statement made in support of the defence? She answered, “Yeah”. He asked her a further question, she answered then he said if she wished to she could have a seat.
Mrs Woodley is cross-examined by Sarah O’Brien
Sarah O’Brien, barrister for Wirral Council asked her to confirm the document was true, which referred to an alleged conversation between David Dickenson and Carol Kane. She said “yes”. Sarah O’Brien said that Mrs Woodley had no knowledge of the conversation as she had not taken part in it. Mrs Woodley explained that she had put that in because her mother was ill. Sarah O’Brien asked another brief question to which Mrs Woodley answered “no”.
Miss O’Brien asked Mrs Woodley if she accepted that she’d received a copy of the eviction notice which intended to end the business tenancy? Mrs Woodley answered “yes”. District Judge Woodburn referred to when she received the notice at page twenty-two in the bundle that it looked like that. He asked her to have a quick read of paragraph five. He referred to having to apply to the court to grant a new tenancy by the date in paragraph two (31st May) and whether she knew this? Mrs Woodley said that when her mum (Mrs Kane) was speaking she’d told her that they didn’t need to because they were in negotiations. District Judge Woodburn asked her if she had anything to add, she replied “no”. He asked her if she agreed with Mrs Kane to which she replied “yes” and if there was anything else she wished to add to which she replied “no”. District Judge Woodburn asked her to watch her step as she left the witness stand and that Mrs Kane and Mrs Woodley were not putting forward witnesses so he wanted both parties to summarise.
Mrs Kane asked if Cllr Ian Lewis (her McKenzie Friend) could summarise for her? District Judge Woodburn said “no”. She asked what about Martin Woodley? District Judge Woodburn said that Mr. Woodley was in the same position and that he thought both defendants could summarise in their own words what the case about. He said that they (the defendants) had done well up to now regarding their views. He said to summarise what the case is ultimately about is the fact that they didn’t apply to the court for a new tenancy, they said they didn’t do so because of what they were told which is their sole contention.
Mrs Kane summarises
Mrs Kane said that in forty years they’d never had a penny off Wirral Council. She continued by saying that many years ago when Wirral Council told them that they were moving them to a different place that Wirral Council had changed their minds and said they would not build on that site so they’d decided to stay. She said that they’d made new fences at a cost of thousands of pounds and repaired them after a storm. Mrs Kane said that she had been asking Wirral Council to be lenient about the cost of renewing the lease but they’d been stopped from renewing only because they were guilty of believing and trusting what Wirral Council were saying.
Mrs Woodley summarises
District Judge Woodburn asked if Mrs Woodley had anything to say? Mrs Woodley said that she agreed with her mother. She said that when they contacted Cllr Ian Lewis that he had confirmed that they must have taken the decision not to renew the lease. District Judge Woodburn referred to the evidence of David Dickenson with regards to his instructions. Mrs Woodley said that it was not from the Council. District Judge Woodburn said “that may be the case”. Mrs Woodley said that their “only crime was to trust” and that Wirral Council made it “impossible to renew the lease” and had done “everything possible to stop” them.
Sarah O’Brien (barrister for Wirral Council) summarises
District Judge Woodburn asked Sarah O’Brien to summarise Wirral Council’s case. Sarah O’Brien said that what the solicitor had provided was the prescribed form from the HMCS [Her Majesty’s Courts Service] website and that it was a standard form.
Ed – although she’s just repeating what she’s been told, the HMCS website doesn’t actually have this on it. The prescribed forms are part of the legislation and are on this website Schedule 2 of SI 2004/1005 (The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, Part 2 (Notices) Regulations 2004), a site that has UK laws on it run by the National Archives.
District Judge Woodburn said “yes, thanks”. Sarah O’Brien said that she would be very brief. Sarah O’Brien said the tenancy was properly terminated in accordance with the Act and that the only defence raised was estoppel. District Judge Woodburn said that the evidence of the two parties was different as to whether there was a binding agreement which would mean an application to the court was not required.
Sarah O’Brien referred to evidence that contradicted that assertion, as the defendant had sent a letter proposing alternative terms. She said that the defendants say that the communication with David Dickenson was highly relevant and important but that it didn’t appear in their defences which is not to say it didn’t take place. District Judge Woodburn asked someone to please not interrupt her.
Sarah O’Brien referred to pages thirty-seven and thirty-eight which referred to chasing a response. She said that if she had received an assurance regarding the terms agreed, then there was no need to be chasing a response. Miss O’Brien said that the evidence did not support the assertion that new terms were agreed.
The second point Miss O’Brien made was a further suggestion that David Dickenson had told Mrs Kane categorically that she did not need to apply to the Court. If this had been said they why didn’t it form part of the defence rather than vague assertions such as being told “not to worry”? Miss O’Brien said that the only reason was that it was not said. She continued by saying that the assertion made that David Dickenson told her “not to worry” needed a clear context and the representation was too vague for it to be reasonable that it could be relied upon.
Miss O’Brien said that the notices were received and read and it was not a question that they were prevented or couldn’t make an application to the court and that was why the lease was not protected. She said that whether Wirral Council agreed to the terms or there was estoppel were facts, therefore Wirral Council should be entitled to a possession order.
District Judge Woodburn said he was going to take a break to consider, then he would invited people back and give judgement on the factual issues. He thought it was best for everyone to have a break. He would let the usher and clerk know when he was ready. The court usher would then ask people to come back in.
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