One of the UK’s best-known business families claimed a “resounding victory” yesterday in a long-running legal battle over control of a £1bn (€1.18bn) company which owns three of London’s most famous hotels.
The Barclay family said property developer Patrick McKillen’s latest court challenge had been “unanimously rejected”.
Mr McKillen, who comes from Belfast but is based in Dublin, lost the opening round of his battle with twins David and Frederick Barclay in the High Court last year. And the Court of Appeal refused to overturn the High Court’s decision today.
Judges heard that Mr McKillen and the Barclay brothers were investors in Coroin, the company which owns and manages Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels.
Mr McKillen claimed that company affairs were conducted in a “manner unfairly prejudicial to his interests”. The Barclay brothers disputed the claims and said Mr McKillen’s allegations were designed to tarnish their reputations and embarrass them.
“This is a total and complete defeat for Mr McKillen,” said a spokesman for Barclay family companies. “His claims have been flatly rejected yet again.” He said Mr McKillen’s appeal was “unanimously rejected” and the judgment handed a “resounding victory to the Barclay family interests.”
Mr McKillen said he was disappointed but would “continue to fight”.
A High Court judge had ruled against Mr McKillen in Aug 2012, following a trial in London. Mr Justice David Richards also said Mr McKillen should pay all sides’ legal costs.
At a hearing in London in February, Mr McKillen asked the Court of Appeal to overturn parts of the ruling by Mr Justice David Richards. Three appeal judges ruled against Mr McKillen yesterday.
They said Mr McKillen should pay almost all of the costs the Barclay brothers had incurred fighting the appeal — as well as his own. The Barclay spokesman estimated that Mr McKillen could be facing a costs bill in the region of £20m.
The Barclay spokesman said after yesterday’s ruling: “The Court of Appeal has unanimously dismissed Patrick McKillen’s appeal from the judgment of Mr Justice David Richards in the case of Coroin Limited — a long-running dispute over ownership and control of the Maybourne Hotel Group (made up of Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels).
“The Court of Appeal judgment hands a resounding victory to the Barclay family interests, who, it is again confirmed, have acted entirely lawfully and properly in relation to Maybourne and in the face of repeated litigation by Mr McKillen.”
He added: “This is a complete and total defeat for Mr McKillen.
He has had numerous judgments against him in this case and has lost every major point on which he has appealed.
“His claims have been flatly rejected by the Court of Appeal yet again. The Barclay family interests have been shown conclusively to have acted lawfully and properly at all times in their dealings over Coroin.
“Mr McKillen is a minority shareholder in Coroin and his attempts to use the courts to lever himself into a majority position have failed utterly. There is nothing for him to salvage from these rulings. After nearly two years of legal proceedings, Mr McKillen is considerably worse off financially but no further forward.”
Mr McKillen said after the ruling: “This case has always been about whether the original shareholders should have first refusal if one of them wanted out or became insolvent.
“That is what the shareholders’ agreement at the heart of this case is all about. The Court of Appeal has confirmed this right.”
He added: “I will continue to fight the Barclay brothers by any legal means to protect our staff, guests and our rights.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved