Highgate’s visually-impaired tennis ace still fighting for cash after surveyor ‘failed to spot’ Japanese knotweed
PUBLISHED: 09:00 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:27 31 May 2019
One of Britain’s leading visually-impaired tennis players is still fighting for compensation after a court ruled a surveyor had failed to notice Japanese knotweed in the garden of his Highgate flat.
Paul Ryb, 48, bought the flat in Bloomfield Road in 2014 for £1.275m, and despite a County Court judge awarding him £50,000 in damages last year, he's yet to receive a penny - with an appeal from Conways, the surveyors' firm responsible, frustrating his attempts to claim the cash.
Knotweed has strong roots that can damage foundations and walls, and is notoriously hard to get rid of once it takes hold.
A gardener discovered the invasive plant growing in the flat's garden a year after Paul bought it, and removal firm Environet was instructed to carry out a Japanese knotweed survey, during which it found knotweed to be visibly present in three locations. Environet then gave evidence that the knotweed would have been visible at the time of the original survey - September 2014.
Paul told this newspaper: "It's frustrating to read in the papers that you've been awarded £50,000 when in reality you haven't seen a penny.
"I'd much rather be talking about visually-impaired tennis, to be honest.
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"This has been going on for five years."
Paul, an ex-financier who is part of the UK visually impaired tennis team, is about to jet off to help the effort to retain the World VI tennis championships won last year. He's then excited to head to Wimbledon, with the All England Club having invited last year's successful players.
Paul said knowing about the knotweed would have changed his mind about the property.
He said: "I bought the property in good faith following a building survey which gave it a clean bill of health. I would not have gone ahead with the purchase, or at the very least would have renegotiated the price, if I had known it was affected by Japanese knotweed."
Paul won the initial case, heard at the Royal Courts of Justice from December 10 to 12 last year, when Judge Jan Luba ruled in his favour.
The judge said when delivering the ruling in February: "I find that material would simply not have been present in that form unless Japanese knotweed had been visibly growing in 2014."
But surveyor Roger Conway, named on the judgment alongside Conways, Daniel Conway and Dirk Springer, maintained that the work had been up to standard.
He told the Ham&High: "This whole thing has been an absolute stitch-up. "We've put in an appeal. When I went there, it wasn't visible."