Assessment of Evidence

February 2nd, 2017

In Southwark Council v Various Lessees of the St Saviour’s Estate (2017) UKUT 10 (LC) the Council appealed against a decision of the First-tier Tribunal preventing it from recovering the whole amount it had expended on works to residential flats through the service charge payable by the occupants. The Council submitted that the FTT had not applied the correct test on disrepair, and erred in finding that there was little evidence of the condition of the communal fire doors and in allowing an arbitrary figure of 50% without giving the parties the opportunity to comment.  The Upper Tribunal dismissed the appeal.  The FTT had been unable to accept the Council’s evidence on the communal fire doors and was not satisfied with the lessees’ evidence. It had been entitled to take that view of the evidence, to accept the fire risk assessments, and to take a broad-brush approach to the appropriate allowable figure.  The 50% figure was not arbitrary, but resulted from the FTT’s evaluation of the available evidence.  Had the FTT used its own knowledge or expertise to challenge the Council’s methodology or figures during the course of the proceedings, it would have been appropriate to give the parties an opportunity to comment.  However, after the close of the evidence, it had simply evaluated the evidence and reached a decision.  It had been entitled to take a robust approach and to arrive at a figure based on the evidence together with its own knowledge and expertise.  It would only be in exceptional cases that, during the course of its deliberations, a Tribunal would ventilate what it was proposing before reaching a final determination.

 

Case report obtained from Lawtel
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