FRESH battle lines have been drawn as a restaurant that lost a bid to sell pink burgers fights off a £35,000 legal bill.
James Baldry and Piotr Mientkiewic run 6 oz Burgers in Osborne Road, in Southsea. The pair lost a civil court battle against a hygiene emergency prohibition notice last December.
The notice, issued by Portsmouth City Council, had forced their speciality pink burgers off the menu.
Now the council has asked a judge to force the business to pay around £35,000 in costs to the council.
James and Piotr are already paying back around £100,000 in their own costs.
At a fiery hearing at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court yesterday the pair’s representative Edward Strickland said it was ‘ludicrous’ to ask for costs.
He said 6 oz Burgers had stopped selling pink burgers when the notice was issued.
He said: ‘It’s ludicrous to award costs in tens of thousands of pounds for a notice being applied to their premises for the cooking of a type of burger for no more than eight days.’
Mr Strickland added: ‘They changed their procedures immediately and have been dragged back to court.’
He added that none of the notices handed to 6 oz Burgers stopping them from cooking the pink burgers warned they would be liable to costs.
Mr Strickland said if 6 oz Burgers had won the case the pair would have asked for compensation, not costs.
But Peter Baulf, the council’s deputy city solicitor, argued the restaurant is liable for the council’s costs.
And he added: ‘It’s utterly unrealistic the issues of costs were not going to be raised by the respondents if they had been successful.’
District judge Anthony Callaway yesterday said he would make a decision within seven days.
Speaking outside court Mr Baldry said: ‘It’s atrocious they’re willing to do this to a small business that employs 10 people, that pays business rates and that helps boost the local economy.’
He added: ‘The council is willing to put us under.’
A council spokesman said: ‘We feel it is right to do our best to minimise the amount of public money spent on this case.’
In the original judgement the judge said the council was just ‘doing its duty’.