// Sports Direct owner Frasers Group ordered to pay rent arrears
// The High Court has ruled against the group in its clash with landlords
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has been ordered to pay rent arrears built up since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The High Court has ruled against the Sports Direct owner in its clash with landlords over arrears during enforced store closures.
Master John Dagnall awarded landlords AEW UK Reit and Bank of New York Mellon (International) summary judgment in their claims for an undislosed amount of unpaid rent relating to a Sports Direct store in Blackpool.
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He said that the voluntary code of practice for commercial property relationships during the pandemic was no obstacle to bringing a claim for unpaid rent.
“I do not see that the existence of a voluntary code encouraging negotiation should in any way obstruct a claimant who contends that they have a clear case seeking summary judgment.
“Assuming that such a clear case is made out, from obtaining it at this point, I regard the code both as being outside the litigation process and not applicable to these tenants who are not said to be unable to pay,” Dagnall said.
“The situation of Covid and the Covid Regulations has (at least in modern times and as a matter of degree) been unprecedented and, in particular, with regard to its effect upon the entertainment (and hospitality) sector but also the nonessential retail sector which has been deprived of the turnover which is the lifeblood of their businesses (and especially where there is no online equivalent). It is impossible not to feel sympathy for them.”
Retail Gazette has approached Frasers Group for comment.