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Relief as bill for £10,000 is ripped up

PUBLISHED: 09:47 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:03 05 July 2010

THE operator of an official travellers' site near Lowestoft spoke of his relief last night after being told a £10,000 legal bill that left him facing bankruptcy was to be ripped up.

THE operator of an official travellers' site near Lowestoft spoke of his relief last night after being told a £10,000 legal bill that left him facing bankruptcy was to be ripped up.

Ian Real, 37, has endured nine months of anguish after solicitors representing a family he evicted from the privately run site in Romany Lane, Kessingland, made the claim for costs.

As revealed in February, the travellers had been thrown out of their home for alleged unruly behaviour, but Mr Real later discovered he had not correctly followed procedures laid down by the Mobile Homes Act.

While he stood by his decision to evict his tenants, he offered them £1,500 in an out-of-court settlement. However, solicitors representing the travellers made a demand for £10,000 in legal fees.

Mr Real employed his own legal firm to fight the claim and yesterday it emerged an agreement had been reached.

He said: “I am just relieved we got through without having to pay anything. The whole thing started in November and it has been a rollercoaster of emotions.

“All of a sudden we had to find £10,000. It would have been a lot to pay and could have sent us under. It was suggested we should fold the business rather than pay the money, but I didn't want to do that because it has taken me so long to set up the business the way it is.”

After making his initial out-of-court offer, Mr Real then launched a counter-claim for £2,000 against the evicted family for the cost of clearing the site following their departure.

It was agreed at the time that Mr Real would no longer have to hand over £1,500 and it was this that provided his solicitor Nick Kingsley, of Waveney-based firm Sprake and Kingsley, with his main line of attack.

Mr Kingsley argued the result of the initial settlement and counter-claim was effectively a draw, making a claim for £10,000 costs unreasonable.

The travellers' solicitors agreed with this view before the case had to go to court and the deal is expected to be rubber-stamped within days.

Mr Real added: “If it hadn't been for our solicitor it could have been a far worse situation.”

Mr Real and his wife Jill, 50, have operated the site for about four years. Before that, Mr Real managed it on behalf of Waveney District Council.


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