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High Court win for DWF

DWF has been successful at the High Court, defending an Austrian entrepreneur against a multi-million pound claim by a former investment banker.

Former banker Bruce MacInnes claimed he was promised a multi-million pound pay out from the sale of Hans Thomas Gross' global sports data business, RunningBall, in 2012.

Mr MacInnes claimed he struck a gentleman's agreement with Mr Gross over dinner at London restaurant Zuma and that he gave up his job as Investec’s head of TMT to provide services to RunningBall. He claimed he was entitled to over £11 million as payment for those services.

DWF conducted the defence for Mr Gross, arguing that no binding agreement was made and that Mr Gross did not owe him anything.

DWF argued that there was simply no intention to create legal relations and no certainty on what was said to have been agreed. DWF also argued that the claimant's attempt to put an objective valuation for his services at over £11m was fundamentally flawed and improperly pleaded.

In the judgement, which was handed down on 27 January 2017, Mr Justice Coulson dismissed the case entirely and said he was "firmly of the view that no binding contract was made between the parties on 23 March 2011."

Mr Justice Coulson added "the general impression created…is that the Claimant did surprisingly little" and that "the claimant cannot realistically maintain that he was – and should be remunerated as if he was – the CEO of a major company.  He simply did not do enough to warrant any such title". 

Jonathan Isaacs, a partner in the litigation group at DWF said:  "The claim against Mr Gross was never more than a banker's speculative attempt to claim a share of sale proceeds which he simply didn't deserve. Mr MacInnes will now have to pay the costs of running such wasteful proceedings over the last four years". 

Mr Gross said: "I am very pleased with the ruling and that Mr Justice Coulson saw through Mr MacInnes’ claim for what it was – an attempt to gain a significant amount of money that he was not entitled to.

“I am a businessman and a man of my word; my reputation is extremely important to me. I am relieved that I have been fully vindicated by the Court. I would like to thank my legal team, particularly Jonathan Isaacs and Joshua Fineman from DWF, Tom Weisselberg QC and Keith Bottomley from PWC, all of whom have been exceptional.”

Mr MacInnes was ordered to pay £528,000 as an interim payment. Substantial further costs will be sought.

The DWF team was led by Litigation partner Jonathan Isaacs with support from Joshua Fineman, Alex Green and Charlotte Evans.

Jonathan Isaacs

Partner

I am a commercial disputes specialist with expertise in contract, professional negligence, contentious insolvency, fraud and boardroom/shareholder disputes.

Joshua Fineman

Senior Associate

I specialise in commercial dispute resolution with particular expertise in cases of post-transaction disputes, professional negligence and fraud.

Alex Green

Associate

I resolve a wide range of business disputes and civil fraud issues for commercial entities, private clients and local authorities either by court litigation, mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution.