The High Court has dismissed an appeal by Thinc Group - now Bluefin - against a ruling which said it could not claim back goodwill payments worth more than £243,000 from two self-employed advisers whose contracts with the business were terminated.
Husband-and-wife team Helen and Ashley Armstrong had joined Thinc Group in April 2008.
To compensate them for bringing to Thinc their 10,000-strong client base, the Armstrongs were offered a 'disturbance allowance' of just over £243,000.
However, the couple's contracts with the company were terminated a little over a year later, in June 2009, on the basis that their business levels were falling "considerably lower" than expected.
Though the contracts had set out the ability of Thinc to terminate the arrangement, even "without cause", the national group lost a court case to reclaim the money earlier this year.
In that case, the judge said there was nothing in the original contract related to a minimum performance requirement.
Bluefin appealed on the grounds that the judge had acted unfairly and that a key point of the Armstrongs' original defence - a 'collateral warranty' defence - had not been put forward.
But Lord Justice Rix, in a judgement handed down this week, confirmed the couple's defence had been referred to in the original case at Liverpool Mercantile Court.
He said: "I am at a loss to know how, in these circumstances, it can be submitted on behalf of Thinc at this appeal that the collateral warranty defence was neither pleaded, nor the subject of any submissions, that the first time the defence was "ventilated" was in the judgment itself, and that this was unfairness on the part of the judge."
Rix also dismissed any suggestion that the representatives' promises did not constitute the making of a contract.
Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice McFarlane agreed with Rix.
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