Known as The Law Courts, The Royal Courts of Justice houses the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales
Military Life

Company which owns military families' homes in High Court fight with MOD

Known as The Law Courts, The Royal Courts of Justice houses the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales

A company which owns tens of thousands of properties occupied by military families is preparing for a High Court fight with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Annington Property is challenging Government decisions to "unwind" a series of contractual agreements.

A judge is due to oversee a trial at the High Court in London in February.

Mr Justice Holgate considered preliminary issues at a hearing on Tuesday.

More than 50,000 military properties were sold off by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in 1996 – in a move valued at £1.7bn at the time.

Annington says on its website that the company owns almost 40,000 homes and most of its properties are occupied by military families.

Early this year, Annington said the MOD and UK Government Investments – the state's investing arm – are seeking to forcibly buy back the business.

A minister said then that the Government would explore whether leasehold enfranchisement deals, designed for individual tenants to buy properties from landlords, could be used to buy back homes.

Annington chairwoman Baroness Helen Liddell had said, in a letter to Mr Wallace, that she was "shocked" by the Government's approach.

Mr Justice Holgate was told on Tuesday, in a written case outline prepared by lawyers representing Annington, that the company is challenging decisions to issue "purported notices seeking to enfranchise" properties in Bristol and Cranwell, Lincolnshire.

He also heard that Annington is challenging decisions to pursue a scheme to "unwind the terms of a series of contractual agreements" between the company and the MOD.

Annington also wants declarations "to the effect that" the MOD was not entitled to acquire the freehold interest in properties.

Mr Wallace is fighting the case – and the judge on Tuesday heard arguments on preliminary issues from lawyers representing both sides.