Sports instructor, Philip, owned a business and a gym called BlastPump* where he taught martial arts. When Philip and his family moved to another part of the country, he had three self-employed coaches working from the original site while he set up in a different location.

One of the coaches, Bella, helped Philip with social media and business administration and she expressed an interest in renewing the lease so she and the other coaches could remain working there. Philip verbally agreed a deal with Bella which involved her signing a new tenancy agreement but agreeing to give up using the name BlastPump once Philip had moved most of clients to his new location.

A few months later, Philip suffered a serious injury and spent some time in hospital, followed by several months of recovery at home. During this time, Bella removed Philip’s control over his social media accounts and set up a new website, changing the company logo which had been designed by Philip’s son.

When Philip challenged Bella’s behaviour, she blocked him from his company’s social media pages altogether. Philip contacted Bella to remind her to stop using his company name and collect the last of his possessions from the old site. Philip’s wife said: “We were horrified, upset and to be honest we felt violated by the fact that Bella was using our company name and trade mark. It seemed completely disrepectful, considering we had made it very clear that although she was taking over the lease, the business was ours and that she was to use her own name.”

Bella continued to post updates through BlastPump social media and use its app despite receiving a cease and desist letter from Philip’s lawyers. Philip then noticed that Bella had filed an application to register the gym name and logo as trade marks and incorporate a company with a very similar name.

Desperate to stop Bella, but having suffered serious injury followed by lockdown, Philip couldn’t afford any more legal representation. He said: “Finding Advocate made me feel a sense of relief, and less panicked as I felt there may be a possibility that we would be able to get some legal assistance, and not be set back by the fact that we were not in a financial position to obtain help, and thus a right to justice. We were fortunate enough to be contacted with the name of a barrister, Mr Ashley Roughton, who was willing to assist us.“

Ashley immediately filed an objection to Bella’s trade mark application and before the issue could be determined, Bella withdrew her application. To stop Bella from continuing her use of the BlastPump name, Ashley issued court proceedings for passing off and trade mark infringement. Bella quickly agreed a deal, which was a weight off Philip’s mind and will enable him the space to attempt to rebuild his business post lockdown.

Philip said: “Ashley was absolutely amazing and from the very first moment I spoke to him, I knew he was going to be able to help us. He was so reassuring and dependable and I can honestly say that he treated our case in a very personal way, making us feel that he really cared about what was happening to us, and wanted to make sure that we got the legal protection we had a right to.”

Pleased with the outcome he had achieved for Philip, Ashley commented: “Frankly they were delighted. I helped them turn the case from a maze and nightmare into an organised (albeit on occasion slow) process in steps which they could manage and understand. They gained a great deal of faith in the Bar and the civil justice system.”