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The premises of S Franses in St James’s.

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The firm’s Simon Franses engaged in a six-and-a-half -year legal battle with landlord Capitaland and hopes a new dealer association for the area could prevent other dealers having to face a similar ordeal.

The new body would be created to “market and promote what is a unique area” of 150 art and antiques dealers currently based in the district bordered by Piccadilly, Pall Mal l, Green Park and Haymarket. It is hoped it would encourage dealers to share information, particularly around the issue of rising rents for tenants.

Discussions have begun among potential members and Franses is hopeful a “next generation” dealer will take up the mantel to lead the association. He added: “After my legal battle I’m very happy to work with others and create this but we need someone, or better still a small group, to take this on and the responsibility that goes with it.”

Franses succeeded in June in the case of S Franses Limited v Cavendish Hotel (London) in the High Court. The case centred on a dispute over the lease and rent at 80 Jermyn Street, St James’s, where the gallery had operated for 27 years. A Supreme Court ruling ordered the landlord to grant a new lease (in 2018) and in August presiding Judge Parfitt ordered the landlord Capitaland to pay the costs of the High Court case.

Long battle

Franses, whose new lease begins in October 2021, said: “This long battle has run for six and a half years and this second award of all our legal and surveyors costs is extremely gratifying. To prevail against a multinational, such as in my case, a tenant needs three things: determination, funding and, most important, excellent legal and valuation advice.

“I cannot praise our team of David and Julian Cooper, Joanne Wicks QC and John Buckingham FRICS enough.”

Lawyer David Cooper said: “This case was a monumental decision and hugely significant because rents were reduced by 50% in Jermyn Street.

“It will make it more affordable for galleries in the area and will cause a major stir both in St James’s and across the wider West End. No one believed we could do this and change the law.”

Cooper praised Franses’ determination in sticking with the case over the past six years, saying: “Simon is very persistent. He spent an enormous amount of time, money and energy.

“If you took a hundred dealers you wouldn’t find another who would have taken this on like Simon.”