An attempt by Mishcon de Reya client Tamara Ecclestone to force two car companies to return a £400,000 Lamborghini that she claimed was a gift to her ex-boyfriend has been thrown out by the High Court.
Ecclestone has been ordered to pay £7,500 damages to company Elite Performance Cars and £15,000 to Ansol Trading Ltd following the dispute, which, Mr Justice Dingemans said, had “caused everyone far more trouble than it is worth”.
Mishcon partner Charlotte Harris instructed 3 Verulam Buildings’ Paul Lowenstein QC to lead the case for Ecclestone, in which she claimed that the defendants, which also included her ex-boyfriend Omar Khyami, had converted a supercar belonging to her and sold it to Elite and Ansol.
In its counterclaim, Elite alleged that it had been owed money by Khyami, that had been secured against the car. It claimed damages for conversion and special damages due to the amount of negative press kicked up by the high-profile legal battle.
HowardKennedyFsi partner Tim Bignell instructed Brick Court Chambers’ Roger Masefield QC, while Ansol Trading turned to Brown Rudnick partner Stephen Hallam, who instructed Blackstone Chambers’ Nick De Marco.
In an attempt to recover the supercar, Ecclestone’s legal team had made an application for a without notice worldwide freezing order against the defendants last April. In an affadavit to support the application Ecclestone claimed she bought the vehicle for Khyami to use as long as the relationship continued. Dismissing the order, Dingemans J said the injunctions had been “wrongfully granted, because they were obtained on the basis of false evidence”.
The judge added: “Ms Ecclestone’s conduct was wrongful and interfered with title and possession by Elite and Ansol by interfering with sales made by Elite and Ansol.”
The millionaire-ess daughter of Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, the judge added, had no legal entitlement to the car.
Ecclestone had bombarded the court with a series of claims, following the ex parte freezing application with a contempt of court claim against Elite and salesman Mr Showai because, she claimed, they had not delivered the car to her fast enough.
She later agreed to drop that claim but continued her case against Khyami, Elite and Ansol. Khyami insisted throughout that the car had been his and that he had sold it to Elite to pay off a loan.
Ecclestone settled her differences with Khyami before the court outing and he did not appear at the hearing.
The two broke up in July 2013 and Dingeman J said: “It was perfectly apparent that Ms Ecclestone and Mr Khyami were, until the late compromise of their action, in opposite camps and had no continuing regard for each other.
“I formed the distinct impression that, notwithstanding the late compromise between Ms Ecclestone and Mr Khyami, they were intent on continuing their fight on a vicarious basis.”
In dismissing the case, Dingeman J said: ”Elite is entitled to judgment for damages for conversion in the sum of £7,500. Ansol is entitled to judgment, both for conversion and under the inquiry into the cross undertaking in damages, for: (a) delivery up of the car; (b) interest on £250,000 until delivery up of the car, at a rate to be determined; and (c) damages in the sum of £15,000 and interest to be determined.”
The legal line-up
For the claimant, Tamara Ecclestone:
3 Verulam Buildings’ Paul Lowenstein QC; Hogarth Chambers Jeremy Reed; Mischon de Reya partner Charlotte Harris
The first defendant was not represented at the trail following a compromise with the claimant
For the second defendant, Elite Performance Cars Ltd.
Brick Court Chambers’ Roger Masefield QC; Richard Blakeley; HowardKennedyFsi partner Tim Bignell
For the third defendant, Ansol Trading Ltd.
Blackstone Chambers’ Nick De Marco; Brown Rudnick partner Stephen Hallam