A £100,000 row — over 4m of land

A dispute between two Sephardi families over a patch of land in North-West London ended up in the Court of Appeal this week.

Freddy Ezekiel and his son Mark are seeking to reverse a judgment made against them earlier this year over a site in Hendon which they agreed to buy from brothers David and Haim Kohali for £300,000 nine years ago.

But the judges were clearly exercised by cost of the one-day appeal, along with a previous eight-day trial. "It's not sensible litigation," said Lord Justice Mummery during Tuesday's hearing.

In September 1999 the Kohalis agreed to sell two plots lying behind Finchley Lane and between Alexander Road and Albert Road. Freddy Ezekiel intended to build himself a house on one of them.
But a problem arose over slivers of land potentially affecting access to the road and the provision of drainage, one part of a strip less than four metres wide. The Ezekiels say they were buying on the understanding that these pieces formed part of the Kohalis plots.

But when it turned out that these slivers did not belong to the brothers and were unregistered, the Ezekiels went to court to insist that they should be allowed to buy the land at a price reduced from the original £300,000.

In April this year, however, Deputy High Court Judge Asplin ruled in favour of the Kohalis, saying that the Ezekiels must have known exactly what they would be buying from information obtained from the land registry.

Lord Justice Mummery, sitting with Lord Justices Wall and Stanley Burnton, wondered whether there was a better way to spend money to sort out the problem than on this "extraordinary litigation". He declared: "It doesn't strike me as the most sensible case."

Michael Michell, representing the Ezekiels, revealed that the appellants had already racked up costs in the region of £100,000.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton reflected: "You don't spend this kind of money on so little unless there s... a degree of personal feud."

The judges will give their decision in writing.

    Last updated: 3:07pm, November 27 2008