Filip Saranovic is a maritime law specialist at the University of Southampton
A Cambridge-educated law lecturer has left his Tesco security guard brother looking for a new home, after winning a court battle involving their £750,000 Hampstead flat.
Filip Saranovic, who is a lecturer in maritime law at the University of Southampton, and his “ill-educated” elder brother, Nikola Saranovic, purchased the flat in London in 2014 with money given to them by their mother.
According to the Evening Standard, the brothers discussed the property deal at Costa Coffee, before Filip — using his legal expertise — “drew up papers” which stipulated that Nikola could live in the flat rent-free. However, the report states that the lecturer, who completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2010, “did not tell him [Nikola] about a clause allowed [sic] either sibling to force through the sale of the flat.”
With Filip keen to flog the flat, Nikola, arguing that his brother had taken advantage of his trust, challenged the legality of the contract at the Central London County Court.
Appearing to sympathise with the security guard’s situation, Judge Michael Berkley acknowledged yesterday that Nikola “had no express knowledge” of the sale clause, and had “relied on” Filip “to explain that important part of the transaction to him.”
However, Berkley went on to rule that Filip, a former Harvard Law School visiting researcher, had “done nothing wrong”, and that it was up to Nikola to seek independent legal advice before putting pen to paper. Continuing, he said:
I find that Filip chose not to explain the detail of the express power of sale and in particular the fact that either party could elect to sell the property against the other’s wishes after a year. I cannot find anything that Filip did wrong. It is very unfair and inequitable to say that Filip asserted undue influence in anything that he did.
Ordering that the £750,000 flat can be put on the market in one month’s time, Berkley said that this will give Nikola — who has a wife and a four-year-old daughter living with him at the property — sufficient time to “adjust to the idea” of relocating. The security guard also faces a hefty costs order of £200,000, though Berkley has agreed to consider a written plea for the bill to be reduced.
Filip’s online university profile reveals that he used to be a “graduate teaching assistant for the LLM module ‘international commercial litigation'” at Cambridge, before going on to secure a position as “module leader for the LLB and LLM module ‘commercial conflict of laws and international litigation'” at Southampton.
For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub here.