… but Bottomley names him yet again in the Commons hours earlier
UPDATE June 4: Statement of RICS on the case
The result will be a crushing disappointment to leaseholders who have repeatedly complained about Mr Mire, the proprietor of Trust Property Management, based in Colindale, north London.
It is also a humiliating set-back for the RICS professional conduct team, who spent months preparing the case.
Sir Peter Bottomley briefly attended the two-day hearing, and today again named Benjamin Mire in the Commons – hours before the case against him collapsed.
Mr Mire was facing four charges:
1. On 25 October 2012, you failed to act at all times to avoid conflicts of interest and/or avoid any actions inconsistent with your professional obligations, contrary to Rule 3 of the Rules of Conduct for Members, in that you appeared before the Southern Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (“the LVT”) on behalf of your client, Lakeside Developments Limited. This was inappropriate in that:
(a) your appearance before the LVT was contrary to Guidance Note 1 – Conflicts of Interest provided to those holding judicial office;
(b) as you sit as a part time Chair of the LVT, this represented a potential conflict of interest.
2. You failed to act at all times to avoid any actions inconsistent with your professional obligations, contrary to Rule 3 of the Rules of Conduct for Members, as demonstrated by the statement of the Judicial Investigations and Conduct Office (“JICO”) dated 15 November 2013 which found you had failed to observe the standards that could reasonably be expected of a judicial office holder.
3. Your conduct as described in the statement of the JICO dated 15 November 2013, given your membership of RICS, was liable to bring RICS into disrepute, contrary to Bye-Law B5.2.2(a)
4. As a member of RICS you failed at all times to act with integrity and/or avoid any actions inconsistent with your professional obligations, contrary to Rule 3 of the rules of Conduct for Members, the particulars being that:
(a) In an article published in News on the Block (issue 40) during the course of an interview with Jamie Reid, you inappropriately used your position as a part time Chair of the LVT to:
(i) further your own interests;
(ii) further the interest of Trust Property Management Limited.
RICS, represented by barrister Victoria Butler-Cole, presented no witnesses and presumably believed that cross-examination of Mr Mire would be sufficient. That opportunity did not arise.
Mr Mire’s barrister, Marc Beaumont of Windsor Chambers, argued that the charges were not sufficiently proven.
Mr Mire had resigned his position on the property tribunal during an inquiry by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.
It made clear that it would have sacked him in any case. It said:
“Mr Mire had failed to observe the standards that could reasonably be expected of a judicial office holder and that this failing was sufficiently serious to justify his removal from office.”
Mr Beaumont assured the independent panel of three headed by solicitor Julian Weinberg that the JCIO decision was wrong, and that Mr Mire was not legally represented when interviewed.
The panel adjourned yesterday afternoon to consider whether the charges as laid were sufficient to bring any form of disciplinary action against Mr Mire under RICS’s code of conduct. They were advised by an independent legal expert.
This afternoon, Mr Weinberg announced that in a seven-page written decision the panel had concluded there was no case to answer, other than possibly charge 4.
This was not considered significant enough to justify any action.
Both sides seemed completely surprised by the panel’s ruling.
Mr Mire will be entitled to claim his costs for the hearing.
It remains an open question what the RICS disciplinary team learn from this debacle.
Before the panel’s ruling, Sir Peter Bottomley referred to the case in the Commons:
“I want to talk about professional regulation, in part because of my interest in the leasehold field, where there are 6 million homes, a great minority of which, sadly, are exploited by managing agents and by freeholders.
“At present, on the other side of Parliament Square, at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a man called Benjamin Mire is involved in a hearing over whether he can continue to be a member.
“He resigned from his judicial office at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal days before being sacked.
“The investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office was made available in part to the RICS.
“I wanted it to be made available to me. I also want to know that the Rip-Off Britain website, which reports on some of the bad things he has done, gets attention from professional regulators.
“Still on the subject of leasehold property, there are people like the Tchenguiz brothers, or at least one of them, who bought the Charter Quay freehold in Kingston, roughly trebled its value, and got professionals—auditors, accountants, bankers and surveyors—to go along with his trebling of the valuation.
“When the property court dropped the valuation by two thirds, nobody paid much attention.
“For too long we have allowed professionals to get away with going along with people who are acting badly, unprofessionally and in some cases criminally.”