Boycott’s damages claim in property dispute dismissed

A High Court judge said former Yorkshire and Test cricket star Geoffrey Boycott had given evidence which was “not always as impressive” as it could have been as he dismissed his claim for damages over a property in a wealthy part of southern England.

Mr Justice Vos said 70-year-old Mr Boycott, who lives in Jersey, had been too slow to take legal action against Perrins Guy Williams, a firm based in Poole, who had given advice on the property purchase in Poole, Dorset.

Mr Justice Vos said: “His evidence was clear but not always as impressive as it would have been if he had not tried to anticipate the reasons why counsel was asking questions.”

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The judge added: “(He gave) three completely different answers to the same question.”

He added: “Otherwise, I found Mr Boycott a reasonably reliable witness. He was plainly annoyed by what had happened.”

The court heard that Mr Boycott, who was born in Fitzwilliam, near Wakefield, bought a house in Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset with former partner Anne Wyatt for £450,000 in 1996.

Mr Boycott and Mrs Wyatt, who was 14 years older, bought the house on a “joint tenancy” and the court heard Mr Boycott had expected to “get the whole property” after her death in 2009.

But the court was told Mrs Wyatt had “severed” the joint tenancy after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007 and half the property became part of her estate when she died.

Mr Boycott claimed Perrins Guy Williams had failed to take “proper instructions” from him when the deal was being struck and to advise him the tenancy could be “unilaterally severed” by Mrs Wyatt. He claimed that as a result of Perrins Guy Williams’ “professional negligence” he got “less from the deal than he expected”.

But the judge concluded Mr Boycott knew there was a problem by July 2007 – when Mrs Wyatt severed the tenancy – and should have launched proceedings by July 2010.

The judge said Mr Boycott’s claim for damages was therefore “statute barred” and had to be dismissed. Mr Boycott’s lawyers suggested that they would try to appeal.