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Lord Alan Sugar has hit Kinglsey Napley with a £1.3m professional negligence claim over an allegedly botched property deal, according to papers filed at the High Court.
Sugar’s real estate company, Amsprop, has turned to Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) to launch the case against the firm. Kingsley Napley, meanwhile, has instructed RPC to defend the case.
The company is expected to have handed the role to HSF litigation partner Alan Watts, a longstanding adviser to Sugar who appeared on The Apprentice several years ago (4 June 2009). Sugar has a long relationship with the firm, his on-screen adviser Margaret Mountford was a former partner at legacy Herbert Smith.
Kingsley Napley is accused by Sugar’s private real estate company of negligence and breach of duty surrounding its role in a property deal.
The case centres on a dispute over a property in Bond Street between Amsprop and cufflink makers Longmire. The parties ended up in court over plans by Amsprop to redevelop the building, which was partly owned by Longmire. Sugar’s company handed over £970,500 to Longmire to give up its rights to the property.
Amsprop alleges that Kingsley Napley mishandled efforts to take possession of the whole building and that it failed to delay the court outing with Longmire, despite it settling with another tenant and removing an obstacle to the original redevelopment.
Amsprop is now seeking £970,500 in costs over the Longmire settlement, as well as a total of £326,379 in legal settlement costs, according to the claim papers.
Sugar’s real estate company has long been connected to Kinglsey Napley, having hired its first ever in-house lawyer from the firm two years ago (22 October 2012).
Property partner Liam MacDonnell joined the company as general counsel in October but left a year later to join Maples Teesdale as a partner. He was understood to be client relationship partner for Amsprop during his time at Kinglsey Napley, advising on a number of transactions including the company’s £20.75m acquisition of 5 Cheapside in 2012.
A Kingsley Napley spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that this case is being progressed. We deny the claim and will vigorously contest it.”