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Lord Sugar Is No Apprentice When It Comes To Litigation Now Suing His Own Lawyers

 

Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2012

The litigious Lord Alan Sugar is famous, amongst other things, for his television show the Apprentice, where he gets to hire and fire at will just like his flamboyant American counterpart Donald Trump.

It seems Lord Alan’s imperious style on the small screen is not much different from real life, though, and now he is suing his own lawyers when they failed to win a case for him in a property deal. Just last year he also won a high profile, some might say even notorious, employment tribunal case brought against him by Stella English a former winner on his show.

Lord Sugar Is No Apprentice When It Comes To Litigation Now Suing His Own Lawyers

The English newspaper the Evening Standard first broke the new story, stating that Lord Sugar’s company Amsprop had filed papers in London’s High Court against its own former solicitors Kingsley Napley. Amsprop, by the way, is an acronym likely derived originally from the conjoining of “Amstrad” with “Property” – and perhaps recalls Sugar’s former ownership of the Amstrad electronics firm.

Lord Sugar owns significant property on New Bond Street, London’s number one most exclusive shopping street, and it seems he had been trying to dislodge an important tenant there, the exclusive jewellers Longmire, from its occupancy of part of 10 New Bond Street on the expiry of their lease in April 2012.

Longmire however did not take this lying down, and took the view it was entitled to a renewal of its lease, apparently absent firm plans to redevelop the entire property which, so Sugar reportedly believed, might have given Sugar an out in any ensuing legal dispute.

It seems a court indeed eventually agreed with Longmire, and forced Sugar to fork over about US$1.6 million to buy their willing departure so that he could rent out an enlarged space to an adjacent tenant, Nicolas Hayek’s Swiss jewellery company the Swatch Group. The Swatch Group are owners of the Swiss watch maker Swatch and of many prestige luxury watch brands as well.

The Evening Standard reports that the court papers against Kingsley Napley allege the firm mishandled the legal strategy and details of Sugar’s attempts to take possession of the whole building, located at both number 10 and number 10A New Bond Street. The legal claim by Lord Sugar apparently turns on his own preference for a redevelopment strategy that would maximise the prospects for increased rents. Instead, he claims, Kingsley Napsely advised it to go ahead with a potentially less profitable plan in order to purportedly improve their chances against Longmire at trial.

Anyway it seems both the strategy and the details of the litigation didn’t work and in the end the Judge sided with the tenant being displaced. This then forced Sugar to make an expensive cash settlement payment to Longmire of about U$1.6 million, so he could proceed with the more lucrative Swatch transaction.

Now Sugar wants that money back from his own lawyers plus about another US$0.5 million in settlement costs and expenses. Lord Sugar has so far declined to comment on the Evening Standard’s story, but Kingsley Napley themselves have been very quick to say, “We are disappointed this case is being progressed. We deny the claim and will vigorously contest it.”

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