Sumption gets a win on Christie’s appeal

Brick Court Chambers’ Jonathan Sumption QC has won his second battle of 2005 against old rival Lord Grabiner QC, head of chambers at One Essex Court.

Sumption was acting for auction house Christie’s in its appeal against a May 2004 decision of Mr Justice Jack in a case brought by art collector Taylor Thomson, who was represented by Grabiner.

Thomson sued Christie’s for misrepresentation and breach of duty of care after she bought a pair of urns described as “Louis XV” for £2m. Later a test – now discredited – dated the urns as being made in the 19th century.

Although the judge decided that the vases did date from the 1700s, he found Christie’s in breach of duty due to the way it had described the urns in a catalogue.

In a Court of Appeal decision handed down on 12 May, Lord Justice May, Lord Justice Jonathan Parker and Lady Justice Smith decided that Christie’s had not been in breach of duty, thus allowing the appeal. They dismissed a cross-appeal by Thomson.

Sumption was instructed by Rupert Boswall at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain. Herbert Smith’s senior partner and former head of litigation David Gold instructed Grabiner.

Having triumphed here and in an earlier insurance dispute heard in January, Sumption will face Grabiner again later this year in Philip Morris v VenFin Ltd.