Sheffield architect fights French law ruling over home

Sheffield architect Arthur Hill.
Sheffield architect Arthur Hill.
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A Sheffield architect faces losing a French bungalow he bought – as a result of one of its previous owners’ bankruptcy.

Arthur Hill, who runs Capital Design Studio on Cobden View Road, is trying to stop the property he owns in the village of Lavaud, near Limoges, being sold at auction next month without his permission.

He said he purchased the property from two brothers Jean-Pierre and Jacky Ducouret in November 2009 for 92,000 Euros – not knowing that Jacky had been made bankrupt two days before the deal went through.

Mr Hill said a civil court in France in May 2011 ruled the sale was valid – but also said the administrator of the bankruptcy could act as though the sale had not taken place and half the property’s value could be used to try to recover the debts of people owed money by Jacky.

Mr Hill, aged 63, from Crookes, said nothing was done until last month, when his property was advertised for sale in a local French newspaper.

He said he has employed a French solicitor to fight his case – but has been advised if he stops the auction, he will be liable to pay the administrator 46,000 Euros.

Mr Hill said he hoped to be able to work out a deal with the administrator that would stop the sale and result in a smaller payout.

He said he was not informed about the 2011 civil court hearing until after it had been completed and did not know about the potential house sale until one of his neighbours in France told him.

He said: “I’m upset. I haven’t slept very well for a week since I knew about it.

“We are hoping to try and work out an offer. Losing the house altogether is the worst option.

“If we have to pay some money to get it back, at least then I have got a house.

“If we don’t come to some agreement with a figure which is hopefully less than the 46,000 Euros, then the house goes.”

But he said he is unhappy at the prospect of having to pay more money for a house he purchased for its full value in good faith and through the proper legal channels, using a French solicitor and notaire.