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Tamara Ecclestone loses High Court claim for conversion of supercar against Elite Performance Cars and ors


The High Court handed down judgment on 20 January 2014 in the case of Ecclestone v (1) Omar Khyami, (2) Elite Performance Cars and (3) Ansol Trading Limited. Ms Ecclestone had brought proceedings against the defendants, alleging that they had converted a supercar belonging to her, and obtained an injunction freezing the car and its proceeds in May of 2013.

Ms Ecclestone alleged that the car had been stolen from her by the defendants, that they had no rights to it, and that they had then attempted to sell it out of the jurisdiction. Elite for its part contended that it had valid security rights over the car in respect of a loan it had made to Mr Khyami, because the car was his all along, having been given to him as a birthday gift by Ms Ecclestone.  Elite also contended that in any event the car had been surrendered to Elite by Mr Khyami in settlement of his outstanding debts to Elite. Elite accordingly denied Ms Ecclestone’s  claim, and counterclaimed for business losses it had suffered as a result of Ms Ecclestone’s own, very public conversion of the car, which had attracted significant publicity.

Shortly before trial, Ms Ecclestone and Mr Khyami compromised their dispute.  The dispute between Ms Ecclestone and Elite was not compromised, however: and after a two week trial heard in November 2013, Mr Justice Dingemans  found that Ms Ecclestone’s claim against Elite failed, that Elite’s counterclaim succeeded and that Ms Ecclestone had obtained her interim relief on a wrongful basis.  The judgment confirms that special damages for loss profits are available in the case of a public conversion of an asset, albeit on the facts the Judge found that Elite had failed to prove that the conversion had in fact caused substantial business losses.

The judgment is here.

Roger Masefield QC and Richard Blakeley acted for the defendant and counterclaimant, Elite Performance Cars, instructed by HowardKennedyFsi.