A dispute concerning a property transfer between a mother and son has been decided at the High Court.
Heather Korwin-Szymanowska, an expert solicitor in these types of cases concerning disputes over property, successfully acted on behalf of the mother, Mrs Singh.
Mrs Singh first sought legal advice after she had become aware that her son, Mr Singh, was trying to sell the house she had previously owned and lived in with him and his family. After multiple threats from her son, Mrs Singh alleged that she had been forced into transferring the property into her son’s name. He then evicted her and tried to sell it.
Stephensons helped Mrs Singh obtain an injunction to prevent the sale of the property and proceedings were issued to seek declaration that the property transfer was invalid. After multiple failed opportunities for Mr Singh and/or his legal team to file a suitable defence, Mrs Singh was granted judgment in her favour, and the property was successfully transferred back into her name.
The case is significant as it is one of the first few cases to apply the new strict rules set down by the Courts, when one party or their solicitors fails to comply with the Court rules.
The Court rules changed in early 2013, making it more difficult for a party to apply for ‘relief from sanctions’ during proceedings, if they failed to comply with a Court Order or one of the Civil Procedure Rules. Following the very high profile case of Mitchell v Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd  EWCA Civ 1537, more commonly known as the ‘plebgate’ scandal, the Court of Appeal set a very high standard for relief from sanction applications to be granted, and in that particular case, it was not.
In Mrs Singh’s case, after the defence was struck out and judgment entered in her favour, the defendant tried to appeal the decision to the High Court (Kaur Singh v Singh  EWHC 4571 (Ch)). The High Court applied the new rules and the guidance given in the Mitchell case, and found that the District Judge was right to strike out the defence and refuse the application for relief from sanctions.
Mr Singh had argued that it was the fault of his legal team, and not him, which led to the various failed attempts to defend the claim. However, this excuse was not permitted by either the District Judge or the High Court on appeal and Mr Singh lost the right to defend the claim against him.
Heather Korwin-Szymanowska, Mrs Singh’s solicitor at leading national law firm Stephensons Solicitors LLP, said: “We have acted for many clients who have had a property transferred from their name, into someone else’s, either fraudulently or when they were put under pressure by someone to do it.
“Cases such as Mrs Singh’s that include disputes between family members are often emotional. We have expertise in acting for clients in such situations, to make sure that their best interests are protected.
“This case also importantly shows that solicitors are now under immense pressure by the Courts to comply with rules and orders, and failures to do so, has serious consequences. It is therefore important to ensure that the solicitors you instruct to act for you are specialists, and experienced, and that if anything goes wrong, you may have a professional negligence claim against them.”