Diabetes UK wins £180,000 in legal battle with former member

A charity has won a legal battle to recover an estimated £180,000 towards unpaid court costs from a former member, following legal wrangles that have spanned more than a decade and cost both sides thousands of pounds.

Diabetes UK was last week successful in its High Court bid to enforce a charging order on the south London home of retired banker Arthur Bennett, who is 72 and has a form of diabetes. Bennett has been given six months by the court to find alternative accommodation.

The charity, formerly known as the British Diabetic Association, successfully sued Bennett in 1995 for setting up a new charity with a similar sounding name after he resigned his membership in the 1980s (Third Sector, 21 June). Following the case, a charging order was made on Bennett’s home in relation to unpaid costs awarded to the charity.

Last week's High Court hearing dealt with Bennett's application to remove the charge on his house, and the charity's counter-action to recover a portion of the estimated £800,000 legal costs that it was awarded in relation to a series of failed actions brought by Bennett.

In a statement, Diabetes UK said that it had enforced the charging order reluctantly after careful consideration, and after taking advice from the Charity Commission.

Penny Mordaunt, director of nations, regions and campaigns at Diabetes UK, said: "The trustees acted properly to protect the interests of the charity. It is with deep regret that we have had to do this, but we felt it was right."

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