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Savills wins Court of Appeal case and claims £150,000 commission fee

It has emerged that global property firm Savills won a case in the Court of Appeal, entitling them to claim an unpaid commission fee of £150,000.

The hearing took place in January this year but the outcome has only just been revealed after the barrister representing Savills released a statement yesterday.

The case centres on the November 2012 sale of Mill Ride Estate in Berkshire.

The estate was purchased by Sidemanor Ltd in 2003 - a company owned by Peter Blacker, the defendant in the case. 

Savills was instructed to sell the estate in February 2012 as Blacker was under financial pressure to dispose of the asset. 

The agency provided a number of valuations ranging from £2.5 million to £10 million. It then produced a report that outlined recommendations, objectives, a property description and method of sale. A section titled 'Fees and Terms of Business' explained Savills' standard terms and conditions, noting that if the property was sold, they would be entitled to a commission fee.

The initial objective was to sell the estate with full planning permission for a large, single residence and vacant possession of a cottage on the estate.

It is reported that Blacker then changed his strategy and wanted the estate to be marketed immediately, without the planning permission. A hastily amended reported was then issued and signed by all parties.

Mill Ride Estate was eventually sold in November 2012 for £6.8 million, albeit not through Savills. 

The agency still went on to claim a commission fee of £120,400 plus VAT, totalling £150,000.

The defendants, Blacker and his company Sidemanor, refused to pay the fee, citing that the estate had been sold without planning permission.

Savills sued Blacker for its fee, but the case was dismissed at an initial hearing in 2015.

The agency then proceeded to apply for a hearing at the Court of Appeal, which was heard by Lord Justice Pattern earlier this year.

Savills won the appeal and Lord Justice Pattern commented: "On the judge’s construction of the agreement, Savills would have had no entitlement to commission even if they had introduced a purchaser who exchanged contracts at any time prior to planning permission.” 

“It is clear that the judge in this case adopted a literal approach.” 

Glenn Willetts, the No5 Barristers’ Chambers lawyer representing Savills, said: “We are delighted with this outcome, which proves that marketing recommendations are simply that; they are proposals and are not binding.”

“The judge was wrong to say they were set in stone.”

Lord Justice Patten allowed the appeal, and ordered the defendants to pay Savills £144,000 with interest of nearly £27,000, with costs of £80,000.

  • Mark Walker

    For the sake of 60 seconds to write an email or letter dismissing Savills, the defendant costs themselves £150,000. Eejits.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Wowzers. That's a lot of money. Don't think Savills are exactly in need of it, but I guess they had every right to challenge it and the Court of Appeal clearly agreed. As Mark says above, Peter Blacker and Sidemanor Ltd didn't cover themselves in glory here. I'm sure he's not short of a few bob, but this has still got to sting.

    One of those cases where the nuances of the law have worked in the favour of Savills, when on another day it could have gone the other way. The sort of thing that may go through a few more appeals yet.

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