A claim made by Yuka Yoshii-Viellefon, owner of Japanese restaurant Arigato, for a little under £5,000 owed by the Kino Teatr was upheld last week in Hastings County Court after a four-hour hearing. The claimant had traded within the Kino’s premises during the period July to December 2020 under an agreement to pay rent and share front-of-house staff expenses, but the partnership arrangement broke down during the second lockdown from December when the Kino failed to produce any payroll documents or other accounting records, and it became apparent that staff were being paid in cash. 

CREDIT: Dave Young

Arigato claimed that they were owed £4,895 in underpaid net takings and issued a small claim against the Kino for this sum, plus £1,000 in their own accountancy costs, in March 2021. The Kino counterclaimed in excess of £3,000 alleging that Arigato had failed to give due notice of termination of the agreement and owed rent contributions. It took ten months for the case to reach trial. But at the hearing on 20 January the judge approved Arigato’s claims, awarded interest, dismissed the counterclaim, and also ordered the Kino to pay court costs, the aggregate judgment amounting to £6, 957.50.

Neither party was legally represented in court, but Yuka’s husband Benoit Vieillefon conducted the case on behalf of Arigato, and pronounced himself well satisfied with the result. “I’m not a lawyer, I’m a musician, but I negotiate contracts every day, and knew that we were in the right,” he told HIP. “My wife and I are both foreigners, but it was easy to bring the claim, and I would encourage others to sue in the small claims court when they have a just cause.”

He added: “Hastings is a small community. Everyone knows everyone, and the community should function out of respect and trust. If they don’t, you end up with a worse society. We’ve shown that the small claims court can be used effectively to produce a just outcome.”

Arigato now trades from within the Heist food market at 22-26 Norman Road. The Kino Teatr at 43-49 Norman Road has a new in-house restaurant, Parlour. 

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