Nicholas Thompson, chief executive of architect Aukett Fitzroy Robinson, has said developer Simon Halabi may be forced to pay it more than £1m after their legal row
Last week the Technology and Construction Court ordered Halabi, a Syrian-born entrepreneur, to pay Aukett £550,000 after he lost a court battle over three refurbishment jobs. Two were properties in London’s West End, including the former In & Out Club in Piccadilly, and the Mentmore Towers country house in Buckinghamshire.
Speaking after the architect announced its results for the year ended 30 September 2009, Thompson (pictured) said the payout would be boosted by £220,000 in interest and legal costs of “at least £250,000”. He said: “Basically, we’ll be getting more than a million pounds and the judge has said we don’t owe Halabi anything.”
The dispute began last year when Aukett launched legal proceedings against Halabi, claiming £1.6m in unpaid fees. Halabi issued a counterclaim that Aukett had failed to inform him of the departure of Jeremy Blake, the project architect on the jobs, until eight months after he left for a rival.
In July last year, Thompson was rebuked by the judge for failing to inform his client about Blake’s departure and last week the court settled on an award of £550,000 in unpaid fees after examining the work Aukett had done. Thompson said: “We’ve made provisions and if we were going to be left out of pocket as a listed company we’d have had to inform the City.”
He described the case as “a distraction”, saying it was “an unfortunate consequence of the decline in the property market”.
The In & Out Club has since reportedly been put on the market with a price tag of £250m.
Aukett Fitzroy Robinson posted a £1.9m loss for 2009 as a result of the collapse of the commercial property market. The figure, which compares with a £2.4m profit in 2008, comes as turnover fell by a third to £15m. Debt stood at £1.4m, down from a cash position of £410,000 on 30 September 2008.
Chair Tim Hodgson said: “To say that the group’s financial year was difficult would be an understatement.”