Property developer Harlequin has won more than $11.6m in damages in a High Court case against its former accountant Wilkins Kennedy.
However, Mr Justice Coulson has proposed the eight-figure sum be paid in to san escrow account rather than to Harlequin "while the competing interests of the company, the liquidators (if they have been appointed) and, in particular, the investors are resolved".
Harlequin issued the High Court proceedings in April 2014 in search of £40m-worth of damages for professional negligence.
Wilkins Kennedy was hired by Harlequin between 2006 and 2010 to provide financial and business advice, particularly on the creation of the Buccament Bay Resort in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the West Indies.
However, Mr Justice Coulson today found senior representatives of Wilkins Kennedy had acted for both Harlequin and ICE, a building company Harlequin was engaged with in a "very bitter dispute" over the Buccament Bay Resort. Harlequin had not been not informed by Wilkins Kennedy the firm had also taken on ICE as a client.
In his 350-page judgement, Mr Justice Coulson said: "The internal documents emanating from Wilkins Kennedy in the early part of 2010 ... reveal an attempt by Wilkins Kennedy to protect ICE at all costs and to ensure that Harlequin paid ICE as much as possible (whether it was justified or not) before the inevitable parting of the ways.
"This was the strategy that was adopted, regardless of the value of the work that ICE were doing (or, by then, not doing). On a project where Wilkins Kennedy ... was attending meetings on behalf of Harlequin purportedly to argue with ICE about money, it meant that Wilkins Kennedy were on both sides of what was (and remains) a very bitter dispute."
In February, Harlequin founder and chairman David Ames (pictured, above left) was ordered by the High Court to pay investors £1.3m to settle claims against him. Around 3,000 mainly British pension savers invested in the region of £400m with Ames and his wife Carol on the promise of high-rental returns on villas such as the aforementioned Buccament Bay Resort.
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