Stephen Connolly acts on behalf of successful Claimant in multi-million pound partnership dispute

January 6, 2022

Stephen Connolly from Exchange Chambers, instructed by Daniel Stern of Slater Heelis LLP, acted for the successful Claimant in partnership proceedings conducted over 10 days in the Business & Property Courts in Manchester.

The hard fought proceedings related to events going back to the early 1980s and concerned a multi-million pound Grade II Listed Building in Central Manchester called Chatham Buildings and the question of who, between the Claimant and the various Defendants, had lawfully exercised their option to purchase the other’s share in that building.

The straightforward case of the Claimant as to him having lawfully exercised his option was met with a plethora of lines of defence from the various Defendants ranging from a denial of the Claimant’s joint ownership of Chatham Buildings, to dissolution on various different dates over a 35 year period, to abandonment and laches and, ultimately, to the Defendants’ having validly exercised their own option to purchase. Through skillful legal argument, combined with a masterful understanding of the facts and robust cross examination, Stephen was able to unpick and undermine each and every line of defence that the Defendants sought to advance and to establish that the Claimant had validly and lawfully exercised his option to purchase Chatham Buildings.

The Claimant was also successful in obtaining findings of dishonesty, fraud and breach of the duty of utmost good faith against his former partner and, additionally, in obtaining findings of dishonest assistance and knowing receipt against a number of the other Defendants –  including his former partner’s son and his trading company.

The judgment leaves the way clear for the Claimant to now take possession and control of Chatham Buildings which, but for the unlawful refusal of the Defendants to give up possession, he was entitled to when he exercised his option to purchase in 2018.

There will now be a further trial at which accounts and enquiries will be taken to establish the precise level of compensation that the Defendants must pay to the Claimant for the mis-use of Chatham Buildings and for the failure to account to the Claimant for the rental and other income generated from Chatham Buildings.  It is anticipated that the ultimate sum the Defendants will have to pay will comfortably exceed £1 million.

Stephen Connolly is a leading senior junior at Exchange Chambers who specialises partnership and shareholder disputes and who is ranked by Chambers and Partners in Band 1 for Commercial Dispute Resolution (Northern) (further details can be found here).

Judgment was handed down by His Honour Judge Cawson QC on 20 December 2021 and a copy of that judgment can be found here.