Still lots of cases and other things to write up, now including an appeal decision on liability for unlawful eviction damages by an intermediate landlord where the superior landlord illegally evicted the sub-tenant, and tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this but anyway Thursday 16 June), the Renters Reform Bill white paper is promised. But these will all have to await proper time, I’ve got quite a lot on my plate, alas.
For now, we have another part of the Fergus Wilson saga. Following on from the well known Essex landlord losing an anti harassment claim against him by Ashford Borough Council, and then losing the subsequent costs hearing that he had insisted upon (our note), it should perhaps not be surprising that Fergus Wilson did not pay the payment on account of costs of £125,000 that was ordered, or the previous costs orders against him in the case amounting to about another £125,000.
Ashford, it appears, did not stand still after Wilson’s failure to pay. Concerned that Wilson was disposing of assets and moving them out of his name, Ashford sought and obtained an ex parte freezing injunction on five properties registered in Fergus Wilson’s name on 1 June 2022.
On the return date, 13 June, Fergus Wilson appeared in person in front of the High Court. This went as well as you might by now expect.
Wilson was apparently now in receipt of a debt breathing space moratorium via Superior Insolvency Solutions (how?!). But went on to argue variously:
All the properties and assets are owned by his wife, he had never been a landlord at all and hasn’t got any assets.
The 5 properties identified as in his name were somehow fraudulently put in his name and actually belonged to his wife.
He hadn’t given false information to obtain the debt moratorium.
When he wrote to Ashford Council stating that “I take more annually in salary and capital gain than the entire salary bill of Ashford Borough Council”, this wasn’t actually true.
The High Court found there was a very high chance he was pretending to have no assets. (The council had identified at least £35 million in sale proceeds in the last two years.)
The freezing order over the five properties was made permanent, with interim charging orders against the properties which would continue unless £250,000 was paid by Wilson or on his behalf.
Fergus Wilson was ordered to serve an affidavit of his assets, whether in his name or not.
Costs of the application, with a payment of £20,000 on account, were ordered against Wilson.
Never one to leave a court room without finding a way to make things worse for himself, Wilson apparently announced, after the judgment, that Judith Wilson, his wife, would pay Ashford the £250,000. Which is a great way to make clear that his assets are completely separate from Judith’s. (And we have seen Fergus Wilson’s propensity for litigating in his wife’s name ‘by mistake’ before.)
I would image the debt breathing space moratorium is in tatters after this as well. Every opponent of Mr Wilson will be hoping and praying that he represents himself in court, as despite his considerable experience, he has learned nothing at all.