Success in Corporate Finance Fee Dispute

Christopher Bond of 3VB (instructed by Hogan Lovells International LLP) acted for the successful defendant in the Commercial Court trial of a claim arising out of a takeover deal: Moorgate Capital (Corporate Finance) Ltd v HIG European Capital Partners LLP.

The claimant, a corporate finance advisory boutique, claimed a £1 million success fee from the defendant private equity firm for assistance on the acquisition of a marketing company. The agreement was allegedly made orally by the parties’ respective principals at a drinks party at the Wallace Collection. Alternatively, the claimant sought a quantum meruit award in the same amount.

After a trial involving extensive cross-examination of factual and expert witnesses, HHJ Keyser QC (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) handed down judgment on 11 June 2019 dismissing the claims in their entirety. The Judge rejected the evidence of the claimant’s main witness about the discussion at the Wallace Collection and held that, in the absence of a binding contract, there was no unjust factor entitling the claimant to succeed in restitution.

The judgment is notable both for the Judge’s observations on the tendency of witnesses to self-deception (at [68]) and for his detailed analysis of what constitutes an unjust factor in an unjust enrichment claim relating to the provision of commercial services (at [87]-[103]).

A copy of the judgment ([2019] EWHC 1421 (Comm)) may be found here.

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