£3m sale of house highlights mistakes

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The buyers of the Trinity property were at one stage £3.2m out of pocket with nothing to show for it after the Deputy Bailiff rejected a call for the injunction – or caveat – to be lifted.

The saga of Oaklands, a large property opposite the Oaklands Lodge Hotel, exposes a series of errors made by the Bailiff’s Office and law firms advising on the sale.

Crill Canavan acted for a bank which loaned £2.25m to the buyers of the house even though the firm itself had applied for the caveat to be put in place preventing its sale.

In a recent judgment which rejected a call to lift the caveat, Deputy Bailiff Michael Birt highlighted this irony, as well as the fact that the lawyers for the buyers, Carey Olsen, had not picked up on the injunction in its title check.

This, he said, was ‘highly unsatisfactory’.

Oaklands was left to brothers Andrew and James Mackinnon by their mother.

For the past three years the former had been involved in litigation in Jersey concerning three trusts and was represented by Crill Canavan.

This has now come to an end, but Mr MacKinnon, who lives in London, disputed the £603,547 legal bill sent to him by the firm and paid less than half.

Seeing that Oaklands was for sale, and identifying it as their only chance of getting their money, Crill Canavan successfully sought an injunction to stop it being sold.

But the Bailiff’s Office sent notice of the injunction to the wrong address in London, so Mr MacKinnon had no idea it had been issued.

On 29 September Oaklands was sold to a Mr and Mrs Miller for £3.2m.

The oversight was noticed by the Public Registry five days later, who promptly declared the sale void, but by then Mr MacKinnon and his brother had been paid.

Mr and Mrs Miller had therefore spent £3.2m but did not own the property, they owed their lenders RBSI £2.25m, and RBSI had no security for that loan.

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