Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

'Barrister' beautician wins case


Georgina Blackwell, 23, rejected a place at law school six years ago

A beautician and her daughter are celebrating winning a legal battle against housebuilders Bellway.

Sandra Blackwell clashed with the firm over access to her land at Halstead in Essex where she lives and runs a business, House of Beauty.

The High Court heard the firm wanted to build on land adjacent to her home.

Her daughter Georgina, 23, who rejected a place at law school six years ago, brushed up her legal knowledge to fight and win the case over access rights.

Had her mother lost the case, she might have been faced with a six-figure legal bill, as well as costs and damages from an earlier hearing.

I was in pieces outside court but I knew that I had to pull myself together and prove we did have an agreement
Georgina Blackwell

Edward Denehan, for Bellway, told the court that Mrs Blackwell clashed with the company over access to her land to carry out building work associated with the development, and that dispute ended up in the High Court.

The company wanted to be able to cross her front garden but Mrs Blackwell refused.

Mrs Blackwell lost and was ordered to pay around £20,000 costs.

The row continued, but in October this year both sides tried to compromise, with Mrs Blackwell believing that a solution had been found.

She accepted £75,000 in compensation but made a number of concessions in favour of Bellway, the court heard.

'Terrifying' experience

However, Mr Denehan alleged that no binding agreement was ever made, and when Bellway decided to withdraw the offer a few days later, the firm was within its rights.

At the High Court, Mrs Justice Proudman dismissed Bellway's arguments that there had been no compromise agreement.

Georgina Blackwell said taking on the firm had been a "terrifying" experience.

She said: "I was in pieces outside court but I knew that I had to pull myself together and prove we did have an agreement.

"My mum was going to lose her business and her home unless we won, and that gave me the courage to stand up and be counted.

"I knew that I was fighting for absolutely everything."

Miss Blackwell turned down a place at law school in London when she was 17 because her mother broke her wrist and needed help running their beauty salon.

Now she is considering returning to the law, adding: "I must admit that although it was scary, I got a real buzz out of the court case."

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