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Embassy Court wrangle adjourned

A legal dispute over the future of a crumbling seafront block of flats has been adjourned at Brighton County Court.

The action is the latest case in a long-running legal battle between residents and property investors at Embassy Court, in King's Road, Brighton.

After a two-week hearing, Judge Michael Kennedy adjourned the case until a date next month to hear legal submissions.

Both sides in the dispute say they hope the court case will end the bitter wrangling and allow the start of restoration of the listed art deco building, which is estimated will cost £4.5 million.

The lessees, who own the freehold and have formed a company called Bluestorm, applied for a ruling ordering Portvale Holdings, which owns nine of the 72 flats, to pay service charges it owes.

They say they cannot start the repair work until Portvale Holdings starts to pay.

In turn, Portvale Holdings is claiming damages against Bluestorm for failing to carry out repairs.

A counter claim has been issued by Chris Camillin, solicitor for Portvale Holdings, who also owns 15 of the flats, against Bluestorm.

He is claiming damages of £80,000 which he says is to cover the loss of rent he cannot get tenants of his flats to pay because of the state of the building.

He also wants the court to make a specific performance order, which would force the freeholder to restore the 12-storey building.

During the hearing, the court heard the lessees took over the freehold when the former freeholders, a company called Portvale, went into liquidation in 1997 after being ordered by a court to carry out urgent repairs of £1.5 million.

The freehold passed to the Crown Estate Commissioners and, after a series of court hearings, was taken over by the residents association.

Embassy Court, built in 1935, was once one of the most sought-after addresses in Brighton.

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