The A Word: Ramsay loses high court battle over lease document signed by ghost writing machine

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The A Word: Ramsay loses high court battle over lease document signed by ghost writing machine

21 Jan 2015

A recent dispute has hit the headlines partly due to its high-profile claimant, the fiery celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Nicholas Lowe, of Kuits’s Banking and Real Estate Finance team, explains the background of the case and the important points to take from the decision.

For a number of years, Gordon Ramsay had employed his father-in-law Christopher Hutcheson in Gordon Ramsey Holdings. With Mr Ramsay’s full consent and knowledge, Mr Hutcheson had repeatedly been using a ghost-writing machine to sign merchandise, cookbooks and, as it later transpired, legal documents in Mr Ramsay’s name. In 2008, Hutcheson signed a 25-year lease of the York & Albany pub in the Regent’s Park of London. Crucially, the same machine was used to sign Mr Ramsay’s name as a personal guarantor for the £640,000 annual rent payable for the pub under the lease. Mr Ramsay later brought a claim against the landlord of the property, film director Gary Love, protesting that Mr Ramsay had no knowledge of his liability.

The court ruled however that Mr Ramsay, as a personal guarantor, was bound to his obligations under the lease. Mr Justice Morgan dismissed Mr Ramsay’s evidence that he did not know the true extent to which the machine was being used. He found that the machine was used frequently to sign legal documents on Mr Ramsay’s behalf (42 different documents were listed during the decision) and that Mr Hutcheson had acted “within the wide general authority conferred on him” as Mr Ramsay’s agent.

If you have any concerns about a current or future agency relationship, please contact us or call Nicholas Lowe on 0161 832 3434 to discuss your options.

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