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Another crazy case in the press this week and we have to ask, why didn’t they mediate?

A couple who were sued by their neighbour over noise from the wooden floor in their Kensington home have been left facing a legal bill of up to £1 million.

Sarah and Ahmed El Kerrami lost a court fight with their downstairs neighbour, banker Sarvenaz Fouladi, after she complained of “intolerable” disruption from their apartment.

Ms Fouladi, 39, said the couple’s three children treated the home “like a playground” and sounds of them passing over the wooden floor, as well as noises of dishes being washed, kept her awake at night.

A county court judge last year awarded Ms Fouladi £107,397 in damages and ruled that the El Kerramis should have fitted carpeting or soundproofing when they installed the wooden floor in 2010.

The couple were hit with a large bill from the legal battle and following a failed High Court appeal they now face having to pay out more than £1 million.

At trial, Ms Fouladi said the peace of her £2.7 million home she shares with her mother, had been ruined by noise from a boiler, fridge, taps and a fireplace.

She argued the El Kerrami family used their home “like a playground, kids running and dropping things for seven hours non-stop”.

Judge Nicholas Parfitt said the noise of the family’s daily life was “sufficiently loud to be invasive and disturbing” and said the El Kerramis and the company which owns their flat, Darout Ltd, should have had carpets fitted.

He dismissed Ms Fouladi’s claim against the freehold owner of the block, St Mary Abbots Court Limited, but insisted that the El Kerramis should foot the entire bill from the legal battle.

Appealing against that decision, Gordon Wignall, for the El Kerramis, said Ms Fouladi had been wrong to bring the freehold company into the dispute with an “unsustainable” claim and she should shoulder its legal costs.

But Mr Justice Henry Carr said the El Kerramis and their company had failed to make “reasonable offers” to settle the case.

“I recognise this is an extremely important case for the defendants, having been told that the costs currently being claimed by St Mary Abbots Court Ltd amount to some £400,000,” he said.

“Nonetheless, I consider it’s not appropriate for me to interfere with the decision.”

Mrs Salamat said after the hearing: “People think my daughter is getting £100,000 for this but it has cost her much more than that.”

The court also heard the El Kerramis left the UK for Malta in the wake of the court battle.

Notable in this case is the fact that the judge considered that the defendants should have offered to settle the case and they now face paying the winner’s costs. Their total exposure appears to be £1m. It is also notable that the Defendants have moved to Malta, so it remains to be seen whether the winner will ever recover any money, particularly following Brexit! The clear lesson from a case like this is offer to mediate early on and reduce the risk of a crushing costs bill. Also it would have been cheaper to instal a gold and diamond carpet!

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