Law

Sir Owen Glenn deceived in deal with Eric Watson – court finds

London court finds Eric Watson obtained Sir Owen’s investment by fraudulent misrepresentation. Watson to appeal.
Eric Watson says he is appealing the court decision.

NBR Rich Lister Sir Owen Glenn has claimed victory in his high-profile, complex court dispute with fellow Rich Lister and former business partner Eric Watson.

The case involved a joint venture Sir Owen and Mr Watson entered into in 2012 called Project Spartan. Sir Owen invested £129 million ($248m) in three instalments through a company known as Kea Investments.

Sir Owen then claimed the ownership arrangement of Spartan was unfair and took his case to the London High Court.

In a judgment released last night, Justice Christopher Nugee found Mr Watson had obtained Sir Owen’s investment in Spartan by fraudulent misrepresentation, despite their former friendship.

“In the course of the events with which the trial is concerned [Mr Watson] resorted to deliberate deception; and that he not only did so himself but also recruited those who worked with him to do so as well.”

The judgment also found Mr Watson offered unlawful inducements to Kea’s director during the negotiation of the joint venture, and that Mr Watson knew that two loan agreements signed by Kea’s director were executed in breach of a court injunction.

Commenting on the judgment, Sir Owen said, “I regard this judgment as a complete vindication of my position in this complex and long-running litigation.”

“Eric Watson has behaved appallingly. I saw him as a close friend but he was trying to rip me off. Once I knew what had happened I was determined to get justice.”

The court heard how Kea had been repaid £130.6 million, including £80m from a settlement agreement with Mr Watson’s Novatrust.

However, Kea claimed to have suffered damage of £52.28m as a consequence of the use of its funds. 

Compensation claims are to be heard in September.

Sir Owen, who is battling cancer, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Mr Watson released a statement to 1 News saying he had instructed his lawyers to file an immediate appeal.

“While I respect the judge’s conclusions, my new legal team and I do not agree with them all. We are pleased we won a portion of the case but it’s fair to say overall I am disappointed. I have asked my legal team to file an urgent appeal covering the areas of disagreement,” he said.

“It is, however, unfortunate and regrettable but worth noting that what I recognised to be a highly valuable business opportunity, and which proved to generate significant returns for its shareholders in a very short space of time has come before the courts. The economic potential of the venture and the social benefit it offered, in particular, was immense and sadly this has been lost.

“This is by no means over and I look forward to success in the course of time.”