A couple locked in a bitter legal dispute to keep their pet dog in their £1million penthouse have taken their fight to the High Court.
Gabby and Florian Kuehn were banned from keeping Vinnie, their Maltese Yorkshire terrier cross, at their flat in Limehouse, east London after they moved there in 2015.
The Victory Place management company, which represents residents in the gated 146-flat complex, said there was a no-pets policy as part of the lease, except in special circumstances.
Despite the couple arguing there was a ‘therapeutic benefit’ gained from living with Vinnie, the company’s board of directors refused to let him live on the premises.
Gabby and Florian Kuehn (pictured outside the High Court in London) are battling to keep their dog Vinnie in their £1million penthouse
The couple challenged that decision at the Mayor’s & City of London Court, but lost their case in February last year.
Judge Donald Cryan ruled the couple’s case ‘comes down to ‘I love my dog’, but said that did not mean they should be given permission for him to live in the flat.
Mrs Kuehn, 46, a recruitment consultant, and her 43-year-old banker husband appealed against that ruling at the High Court in London on Thursday.
They claim the board of the residents committee failed to give them a fair hearing.
Their lawyers argued the board had ‘pre-determined’ their decision to refuse the couple permission to keep Vinnie and the decision-making process was therefore unfair.
David Phillips QC, for the Kuehns, said it was clear the board had discussed the matter and made up their minds before meeting with the couple.
‘My clients feel strongly that they have not had a fair hearing,’ he said.
The couple were banned from keeping Vinnie (pictured with Mrs Kuehn), their Maltese Yorkshire terrier cross, at their flat in Limehouse, east London after they moved there in 2015
‘They have been treated in a way that was not only unfair but high handed.
‘But also the conditions of the lease they have been taken to, and have understood, have not been complied with.
‘It will be whether the members have discharged their obligation on the board properly.’
He said the boards approach was ‘flawed’ and added: ‘What is wrong with it is when you look at what they actually did, they have a blanket policy which they applied willy nilly in every case.
‘I criticise the board for treating it as a predetermination.
‘The board had discussed what they expected to be an application and discussed the outcome of the application before they had met Mr and Mrs Kuehn.
‘They have not exercised their own independent judgement.’
The couple argue they were given permission to bring the Yorkshire-Maltese cross by the property’s freeholders shortly before their move in November 2015.
But Victory Place, the property management company, argued the lease has a ‘no-pets policy’, and the couple knew of the policy before they bought the luxury pad.
The Victory Place management company, which represents residents in the gated 146-flat complex, said there was a no-pets policy as part of the lease, except in special circumstances
The couple challenged the decision at the Mayor’s & City of London Court, but lost their case in February last year
Although the policy does allow for pets in exceptional circumstances, such as medical grounds, however no pets have ever been allowed to live on the estate.
Christopher Heather QC, for the management company, said the board was entitled to take account of a vote by 75 residents in support of the policy on pets – with only the Kuehns voting against.
He also said the couple had been asked to produce some medical evidence to support their claim about their pet’s therapeutic benefit, but they had not.
Sir Geoffrey Vos, hearing the case, said there were ‘strong views on both sides’ and he was ‘surprised’ Vinnie was not in court.
He added: ‘It is a very simple case.
‘I know it’s about a lovely dog called Vinnie and that can be taken into account.’
The couple argue there was a ‘therapeutic benefit’ gained from living with Vinnie
The Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Geoffrey Vos, questioned why the case was him front of him.
He said: ‘The board are explicitly opposed to the keeping of dogs, apart from in exceptional circumstances.
‘But I don’t see how you win this case. You may win and get some costs, but then they (the board) can go back and they do it properly and say you can’t have a dog.’
The judge also felt it necessary to tell the parties he himself is dog owner and said: ‘I should disclose that I have dogs.
‘I didn’t say I liked them or not. Well I do like mine.’
Referring to the case he added: ‘I have rarely seen such visceral opposition to dogs.’
The judge reserved his ruling on the case until a later date.
During the trial in February last year, recruitment consultant Mrs Kuehn said the dog has a ‘therapeutic effect’ on her and that she bought it during a stressful period of her life.
But when asked for medical evidence she did not provide it, The Mayor’s and City of London Court was told.
Victory Place took legal action, and was granted an injunction to have the dog evicted from the Docklands flat, but the couple appealed the decision.
The trial Judge Donald Cryan said all the couple’s defence came down to was ‘I love my dog’, and that no evidence had been provided of any medical benefits.