Press Statement - Torridge District Council and the Holsworthy Livestock Market Court Case

7th November 2019

Press Statement - Torridge District Council and the Holsworthy Livestock Market Court Case

This press statement concerns Holsworthy Agri-Business Centre and the High Court decision published on Thursday, October 31 in favour of Kivells, ruling that Torridge District Council must pay damages.

Mark Bromell of Kivells stated: “We are disappointed that we have all ended-up in this situation as it could have been avoided.  We tried strenuously to raise the issue with Council officers before the market opened.  As long ago as 2014, we offered to share the anticipated increased operating costs with the Council on a 50/50 basis.  However, Council officers refused the offer. Between 2014 and 2017, we made repeated attempts to find a solution to the issue but the Council refused to consider all proposals.

“Therefore, it was with the heaviest of hearts and greatest reluctance that in late 2017, we felt we had no choice to pursue the only option open to us of legal proceedings.  Even then, we have continued to make further strenuous attempts to settle with numerous offers, all of which were rejected by the Council despite being significantly more favourable to the Council than the judgment award.”

Kivells was represented by leading law firm Stephens Scown LLP.  Richard Bagwell, Partner of the Property Litigation Team at Stephens Scown, commented:  “The recent High Court judgment in respect of the dispute about the dirty water system serving Holsworthy Agri-Business Centre has more than vindicated the stance of our client, Kivells Limited.

“The judgment makes clear that the Council was in breach of its contractual agreement with Kivells. The Court concluded that the dirty water system implemented by the Council was not the system it had agreed to install.  In addition, the system it did choose to install without the agreement of Kivells was inherently defective.  The Court also concluded that the Council had acted “unconscionably” in choosing the system without the agreement of Kivells despite knowing that the system it was installing would mean much higher discharge and running costs for Kivells as tenant compared to the system that the Council was contracted to deliver.  To reflect the fact that the Council refused the offers made on more than fair and reasonable terms by Kivells, the Council has been ordered by the Court to pay penalty damages of an additional 10%, as well as all Kivells’ legal costs.”

David Kivell of Kivells commented: “We offered to carry out improvements to the defective system at our own cost, but the Council officers also rejected this offer threatening to terminate the lease if we did try to improve the system. Against this position we had no choice but to seek a remedy. We have put huge effort into ensuring the inadequacies of the dirty water system have not impacted on clients’ use of the new facility.  The new Agri-Business Centre has delivered a raft of benefits for the local area and the wider rural economy and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.”

The agricultural auctioneers gave up its tenancy of the old Holsworthy market site to enable the Council to sell the site for residential and supermarket development value to fund the new Agri-Business Centre.