Gordon Ramsay loses High Court battle over pub rent liability

Gordon RamsayA High Court judge has ruled that celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is liable for the rent on an expensive London pub acquired by Mr Ramsay’s father-in-law on his behalf.

Christopher Hutcheson – father of Gordon Ramsay’s wife, Tana – was business manager for Mr Ramsay’s group of companies until he was dismissed on grounds of ‘gross misconduct’ in 2010. Mr Ramsay told the judge, Mr Justice Morgan, that he felt ‘like a performing monkey’ when Hutcheson was handling his business affairs.

The chef alleged Mr Hutcheson had used a ghostwriter machine, commonly used by authors to sign books automatically, to forge his signature and make him a personal guarantor for the York & Albany pub, near Regent’s Park, which has an annual rent of £640,000. The 25-year lease was signed in 2007.

Mr Justice Morgan rejected the argument that Mr Ramsay’s signature ‘was not lawfully authorised’ along with his claim that he did not know the full extent of the use of the ghostwriter machine.

The judge said: "I find that when Mr Hutcheson committed Mr Ramsay to the guarantee in the lease of the premises, Mr Hutcheson was acting within the wide general authority conferred on him by Mr Ramsay at all times until Mr Hutcheson's dismissal in October 2010…

"Mr Ramsay may now regret the transaction in relation to the premises. He may particularly regret his involvement as a guarantor.

"He may consider that Mr Hutcheson did a bad deal. However, on any finding, he is not able to say that Mr Hutcheson exceeded his authority in any respect.

"I hold that Mr Ramsay, acting through his agent Mr Hutcheson, is bound by the guarantee in the lease of the premises."

Gary Love, the film director owner of the York & Albany, described Ramsay's allegation as an ‘absurd’ attempt to avoid his rental commitments.

Expert commercial property and leasehold advice

For expert advice on all commercial property and leasehold matters contact Gaby Hardwicke Senior Associate Solicitor Melanie Verth on 01323 435 900 or .

Above creative commons image courtesy of Dave Pullig (Flickr).

Posted: 21 January 2015

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