Wetherspoons scores High Court victory over former advisers

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pub group jd, Van de berg, Real property, Law, Real estate

Managed pub group JD Wetherspoon has won a three year-long battle in the High Court against one of its former property agents, Van de Berg and...

Managed pub group JD Wetherspoon has won a three year-long battle in the High Court against one of its former property agents, Van de Berg and Christian Brown.

The case, which has seen Wetherspoons stump up legal costs in excess of £2m, had been brought by the group in 2006, in which it claimed its former advisors had breached their "fiduciary duty" with respect to a number of property transactions.

For a number of years Wetherspoons had paid Van de Berg to find sites for it to convert into pubs.

But Wetherspoons claimed the agent had instead diverted freehold properties to third parties instead of the pub group and putting it into a lease which the group claimed increased the value of the freehold for the third party buyer.

According to a statement from Wetherspoons, the group's founder and chairman Tim Martin "became suspicious" of some of the dealings undertaken by Van de Berg in 1998, but said his concerns were allayed "which put him off the scent until suspicions were aroused once more in 2005 and Van de Berg's contract was summarily terminated".

A fraud action was then started in 2006.

Concluding the case, Judge Mr Justice Peter Smith said Martin was an "impressive" witness, as well as in his business dealings.

In a statement Martin said he was delighted by the result.

"The defendants were dealing with us on the basis of trust and received fees of many millions of pounds over a long period.

"It was astonishingly dishonest and greedy to divert properties to third parties. A lot of people think that anything goes in the property market and this case shows that that's not true."

It is not clear what level of compensation Wetherspoons can expect, nor whether Van de Berg plans to - or indeed can - appeal the judgement.

Related topics: Property law

Property of the week

The Hazeldene Hotel

- Tenancy

The Hazeldene Hotel is opposite the Famous Blacksmiths Shop in Gretna Green. With 11 letting rooms, it is in a prime location to offer fantastic...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more