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Cambridge-educated law lecturer uses contract HE DRAFTED to force Tesco security brother out of £750,000 Hampstead flat

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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.

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33 Comments

Anonymous

Is this really news?

(16)(5)

Anonymous

Yes. Next question please?

(4)(4)

Anonymous

Are you Alex?

(9)(0)

Not Amused

We have the legally illiterate mainstream media to pander to prejudice and foster silly feelings of grievance. I thought LC was here to give a legal perspective …

It can shock no one that co-owners of property might each have a power of sale.

(37)(6)

Anonymous

Obviously it’s not the power of sale that is shocking but the stark facts that on their face seem likely to add up to undue influence. Clearly the allegation of undue influence was raised and rejected by the judge so I do think it’s a bit unfair to make insinuations about it without reporting why the judge found that there was none. But otherwise I don’t see any “pandering to prejudice” – the media and public are quite entitled to take a view on decisions like this.

(7)(3)

Anonymous

Storm in a teacup. When I studied law at Southampton, I learned that jointly held property is held on a trust for sale.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

No, it’s held on a trust of land, unless you studied law over 20 years ago

(28)(0)

Anonymous

Or studied at Southampton.

(10)(3)

Anonymous

My age betrays me; yes it was over 20 years ago.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Ha! Well read TOLATA 1996 for fun updates…

(1)(0)

Anonymous

What a dick.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Not really. His bro was getting free rent and he presumably wasn’t going to ruin the relationship unless he needed the money, perhaps to buy his own house.

Rather than accept this the brother idiotically drags the matter through the courts incurring hundreds of thousands in legal costs.

(4)(5)

Anonymous

Not really free rent when it was jointly owned!

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Free rent, yes, because he should have been paying half to his bro.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Then his bro’ should have ben paying half to him. Read the facts, it is obvious that they bought the property jointly, with money left to them by their mother. In the absence of other evidence I think we have to assume that the moeny was split equally.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Yes, and so the brother that occupied the property should have been paying half the rent to the brother that did not occupy the property. Otherwise one brother is getting all of the income benefits of the property for only half of the cost…

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Sorry, the facts stated in the story don’t indicate who was living in the flat – a natural assumption would be that both brothers were.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Occupation rent is a thing.

(0)(0)

Professor Plum

If one is a lawyer it is.
And I found it a breath of fresh air for LC to post something legally interesting for a change (as opposed to gender identity and fashion articles etc)
More of these please LC

(13)(7)

Mrs Peacock

O fabby dooby doshious Mx Amused. Such silly silly emotional people who are quite quite uneducated. How could such brothers possibly bear each other?

(3)(0)

links trainee

Daily Mail first broke this story. Great source LC 😂

(6)(1)

Anonymous

Even Wikipedia don’t accept them as a source any more!

(5)(1)

Anonymous

The issue here is that the legal profession, aided and abetted by the Court System, have managed to allow a law firm to accrue £200,000 worth of fees in a case where, really, only a 1 or 2 day hearing would have been required.

It is tragic really. It will come out of the brother’s half of the flat, obviously, so you can potentially see how a law firm might have rubbed its hands together with glee. “Jam today !”

Meantime the uneducated brother has to bring up his wife and family.

I wonder if a barrister’s advice is on the file too – “on my instructions you have a reasonable prospect of success in establishing undue influence”.

What a jeffing racket ! Just fix a one or two day hearing within days of receiving the Cambridge brother’s application and the other brother’s defence to it, for pity’s sake, you heartless lot !

(23)(0)

Not Amused

The judiciary are solely to blame for their failure to bring about swift trials.

They aren’t even sorry. Each time they ‘reform’ the system they make trials take longer to come and ratchet up interim costs with stupid extra bureaucratic burdens. They are then incredibly proud of themselves and declare themselves a success (see the highly dedicated moron Rupert Jackson).

(7)(4)

LL and P

That’s the real shame here, but the brother is an idiot unfortunately and has been taken for a fool. The property was an investment for both of them, and one allowed the other to live there rent free. On what planet would a hardworking man expect to live there forever, effectively saying his brother has given him £300k for life. It’s stupid. And the younger brother, although clever, is not a lawyer and not rich. He is an academic. He probably earns peanuts and needs the money to buy a place in Southampton where he teaches and where it is far more affordable to live. The media is trying to spin this into a sob story but all I see is evidence that a fool and his money are easily parted.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

That is not all there is to see to the trained eye. There is a sophisticated spider’s web here which, even on your balanced account, has trapped both of them. The problem they have had, really, is that they were both “well behaved and obedient” seeking legal advice and going into the best court system in the world. What a terrible shame, and, as they are both foreign, what a mirror it presents to us , in truth.

If they were seeing a mechanic, optician, dentist or bank clerk – anyone other than a Judge, who you could approach by yourself – it would have been finished quickly within days.

While I am about it, as everyone on here will be aware, franchised car dealers are deemed to be expensive for servicing , compared to say Halfords or your local mechanic.

VW Swansea charge £90 per hour for labour, and many owners of VWs will take the cars out of the main dealer network, once the warranty has expired.

Just think how ridiculous it would be if VW Swansea were to charge to £200,000 for the equivalent car problem – perhaps an engine and gear box replacement with some accident damage – which takes a day and half to sort, but needs a period of time for booking in (so that they can receive the parts from VW). – Is this £200,000 situation indistinguishable organized crime, in comparison ?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

The brother owns several properties in London and Southampton

(0)(0)

LL and P

Sorry I forgot everyone who owns property is rich regardless of how crap the property is and how much of it is actually owned (buy-to-let of yesteryear)

(2)(0)

Embarrassed to be a lawyer

Agreed, the issue here is the extraordinary costs bill for a simple issue of “undue influence”. It should have been set down for a one day trial at the outset if the judge in the pre-trial case management hearing was doing his job. If associate solicitors and counsels fees were 250 per hour (this is not a matter which would require extensive partner time), that means 800 hours of time were racked up. WTF???

(5)(0)

Anonymous

I agree with everyone else here, £200K in fees for a multi-track claim is extortionate. Even allowing for a number of applications throughout, it seems somewhat disproportionate.

I wouldn’t expect to pay counsel more than £5-7k for the brief and hearing, the court fee would be in the region of £12K, and certainly would expect a solicitors bill of no more than £20K and that is being extremely generous.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You appear to be ignorant of the scale of many multi-track claims. £200k is not at all extortionate for many commercial disputes: indeed it’s pretty small for anything with a reasonable amount of evidence involved. It does sound ridiculous here but who knows how intransigent the parties were? Emotional disputes and those on points of principle are always the ones that rack up the costs against everyone’s advice.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I think it’s sad that a family has been torn apart by this.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The old adage that British Justice, like the Ritz is open to all,
still going strong

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.