A tree surgery firm has been ordered to pay more than £25,000 to retail giant Homebase after the DIY firm was removed from a lawsuit on its owner called “a technicality”.

Highgate man Eugene Lebedenko’s business, Tree Work Solutions, was instructed to pay the money by the Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court.

Mr Lebedenko’s firm was suing Homebase (HHGL) and its alleged agent, Access Point, for "fraudulent" conduct, saying they rented him land that was not theirs to rent.

Mr Lebedenko said he spent several months and £10,000 clearing the land, only to then be sued for trespass by the real owner, costing him £25,000.

Homebase has now convinced a judge to remove it from the lawsuit on grounds that Tree Work Solutions should have filed a creditor’s claim when Homebase entered into an insolvency process five years ago.

With the resulting bill for costs, Mr Lebedenko says he is now down £60,000 when all he did was sign a rental agreement in good faith.

“It’s annoying that I have to fork out £25,000 to Homebase for their legal expenses while they walk away on a technicality,” he said.

In 2015, Mr Lebedenko rented land near a Homebase store in Station Road, Enfield.

He claims he he enquired about the land with a manager at the store, who referred him to an agent called Access Point Ltd.

A previous court hearing was told that Access Point informed Mr Lebedenko in emails that Homebase had agreed to rent him the land, where he would convert tree waste into wood for carpentry and biomass fuel.

But months later he was sued for trespass by a man who turned out to be the real owner.

Homebase and Access Point each blamed each other in legal papers.

Access Point said it acted on Homebase’s instructions. Homebase denied that.

Homebase also argued that in 2018 it had entered a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA), so Mr Lebedenko should have registered as a creditor at that time.

Mr Lebedenko said Homebase never informed him of the CVA and he only learned of it was when Homebase mentioned it in its defence papers.

The court ruled that the CVA did mean Homebase could not be sued.

Mr Lebedenko must pay Homebase £25,191.87 – all its legal costs since Mr Lebedenko was informed of the CVA.

The case continues against Access Point and will be transferred to the Central London County Court.

Neither Homebase nor Access Point responded to requests for comment.