Dunfermline Building Society v Ghana Commercial Finance Ltd & Ors (2014) QBD (Merc) 16 July 2014 [Not on Bailii. Lawtel note of extempore judgment.]
Regular readers will know of our interest in Mr Dharam Ghopee (or Gopee), our very favourite unlawful money lender to vulnerable individuals at hugely extortionate if unenforceable rates. It appears that as well as skating on extremely thin ice with the Mercantile Court (to the point where all possession cases, by all his companies, are stayed, struck out or set aside), Mr Ghopee has been pursuing other litigation against relatively bona fide lenders (presumably over possession and charges) on behalf of his companies.
And just as in the joined Mercantile Court acses, the distinction between Mr Ghopee (or Gopee) and his many and various companies is crumbling.
In this case, it appears Mr G had brought a claim as Ghana Commercial Finance Ltd (and maybe other companies under Mr G’s control). The claim had failed. In fact it had horribly failed, such that “the substantive proceedings had been hopeless on the merits and ought never to have been brought” and summary judgment for Defendant given. Dunfermline Building Society, the erstwhile defendant, brought proceedings for costs against Mr Ghopee (or Gopee) personally.
HHJ Mackie QC, (for yes this was heard in the Mercantile Court by HHJ Mackie QC, who by now knows Mr Ghopee’s operations intimately), was not impressed by Mr G’s arguments that he should not be personally liable as there was a clear distinction between him personally and the company (or companies), as the benefit of any litigation inured to the shareholders.
The Court held:
Ghopee was inextricably bound up with the claimant’s fortunes; it was impossible to ignore that Ghopee was connected with a number of companies in all of which he had played much the same role. The substantive proceedings had been hopeless on the merits and ought never to have been brought. In reality there was no distinction between Ghopee and the Claimant and if there was any distinction, it was not sufficient to merit not making the order sought in all the circumstances.
So, Mr Ghopee was found personally liable for the costs of this case. And his room for manoeuvre gets ever smaller…