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BRITAIN'S first black chambers, 9 Stone Buildings, has been evicted over rent arrears.
Head of the 14-barrister chambers Yosefaly Serugo-Lugo launched a last-minute appeal for u38,000 to save the chambers from summary eviction, but the building was repossessed on Friday lunchtime.
The landlord, Lincoln's Inn under-treasurer Captain Malcolm Carver, says he will now seek to recover the money owed and have Serugo-Lugo made bankrupt, finishing his career.
Two weeks ago, Serugo-Lugo won an 11th-hour reprieve as Lincoln's Inn attemp- ted to evict the set over rent debts totalling u38,000 on Friday, 22 July.
The threat was briefly postponed following talks brokered by Anthony Scrivener QC.
But Carver says he was forced to send bailiffs in because his requests for the chambers to be vacated were ignored. Earlier he had hoped that professional people would not want to put everyone in that position.
Before the eviction Serugo-Lugo said: "We are appealing to the public for help. We do not want to be evicted. We need about u38,000. We are owed u9,000 but we have to go to court to get it. Proceedings started last year but have been put off until September. This is what we are up against."
He said he offered to pay u10,000 now and u1,000 per month from October, but this was not enough for the Inn, which says it has offered alternative accommodation.
He also said that once the debt was cleared he would attempt to resurrect the set.
Society of Black Lawyers chair Makbool Javaid says: "The Inn has acted in a very harsh manner, seeing that the Bar Council recognises the problems faced by black law-yers and that they need support.
"What concerns us most is that barristers careers could be ruined.
"Apart from that, the chambers is seen as a symbol of the achievements of black lawyers."
Carver says: "We have been more than lenient. They have paid no rent to cover the first six months of this year.
Nine Stone Buildings has trained 250 black barristers since its formation in 1969.