When a debt is clearly owed in an open and shut case, litigation can be a fast and effective means of getting your money back. In one case, a wealthy family which entrusted EUR 35 million to a businessman – who went on a spending spree with their money – found a short route to obtaining judgment against him with the assistance of specialist lawyers.
The apparently successful businessman, who claimed to have influential contacts in the Middle East, managed to convince the family that he could obtain large supplies of oil at rock bottom prices. He said that the money was needed as a deposit to secure lucrative contracts and the family paid it into a Swiss bank account.
The hoped-for oil supplies did not materialise and the businessman spent much of the family’s money for his own private purposes, including on goods from Harrods, luxury vehicles and a £12.75 million house in London. He came up with various excuses for the lack of progress and more than four years passed before the family ran out of patience and launched debt recovery proceedings.
Entering summary judgment for the whole sum, plus interest, in the family’s favour, the High Court found that the businessman’s various defences to the claim were wholly incredible and completely trumped up. His fantastical arguments were not worthy of being tested at trial and he had clearly misappropriated the money.