12/01/2020

“I know it gives a person pause”

Camelot! Camelot!
I know it gives a person pause
But in Camelot, Camelot
Those are the legal laws

Camelot Guardian Management Ltd previously pleaded guilty to 15 charges for failing to licence an HMO and for multiple breaches of HMO management regulations in repsect of a property in which they had placed many property guardians. As I have been informed, Camelot then considered unpleading guilty. But instead, to try avoid the fines and legal costs, Camelot’s parent company deliberately put the UK Camelot companies into liquidation by calling in inter-company loans. A new flat pack company, Watchtower Security Solutions Ltd, with the same directors, then purported to take over Camelot’s contracts and grant Guardians new (if legally wrong) licences. I gather not all property owners were consulted or have agreed to Watchtower stepping into Camelot’s shoes. This has not stopped Watchtower demanding that guardians in these properties sign new licenses with them.

Still, on 10 January, Camelot had a sentencing hearing. This confirmed that:

The breaches related to fire and electrical safety and living conditions within the property including a faulty fire alarm system, blocked fire escapes and sealed doors.

The residents shared one kitchen, several bathrooms with no hot water and a blocked toilet.

However, as Camelot was in liquidation and the administrators confirmed there were effectively no assets (good luck anyone owed money), the court could only impose a minimal fine of £100 for each of the 15 offences, plus ordering costs of c. £10,000 against Camelot.

At Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Justin Barron had no alternative, due to the company being in administration, but to issue a nominal fine of £100 for each of the 15 offences and ordered the company to pay the council’s full costs of just under £10,000.

So, Camelot ended through a large scale breach of housing regulations. Given that Watchtower has apparently started by issuing licences that contain a significant breach of relevant housing law, and that the same directors and parent company folded Camelot to avoid fines for safety and management breaches, one would have to need assurances about Watchtower’s understanding of and ability to comply with the law in the future…

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

7 Comments

  1. Chris

    I was on the Camelot mailing list and now I find myself signed up to ‘Watchtower’ – can either of these organisations be hit with GDPR violation I wonder…

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Sounds like a violation by Watchtower, certainly

      Reply
  2. Timmy

    This sounds like the sort of case where the Insolvency Service ought to be looking at sanctions for the directors.

    Reply
  3. RD

    And some of the housing disrepair claims firms I know of are now advertising their services when it comes to pursuing data protection breaches.

    Reply
  4. archie maddan

    Sounds like the prosecution should have also been brought under section 251 to catch the directors and staff involved in the offences. As for the new company I would hope that immediate inspections are carried out and prosecutions brought if the breaches are still present.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Yes, though I suppse the additional hurdle of having to prove consent, connivance or neglect

      Agreed on the new company.

      Reply

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