On Tuesday of this week HHJ Hacon (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) handed down judgment in the case of De Muller & Anor v. Harrison-Morgan [2018] EWHC 1904 following a 6 day trial in the Chancery Division.  Dismissing the claim brought by the estate of the late Rainer Christian Kahrmann to recover £2.2 million of the proceeds of sale of a substantial property in Belgravia from the deceased’s former mistress, the Court found that the estate had failed to establish a proprietary claim to these monies and that the defendant had provided good consideration for this payment by vacating the property and by abandoning any claims that she had over it.

The case serves as a timely reminder that a claim based on knowing receipt can only succeed where a claimant can show a legal or equitable interest in the monies or assets which are said to have been received.  The decision also emphasises how the courts will rarely enquire into the adequacy of the consideration that is said to have been given provided by a defendant if what was given is good consideration at law.

In his judgment HHJ Hacon recorded a previous ruling that he had made during the course of the trial that the attendance notes of a meeting with the solicitors acting for the estate should be admitted into evidence because the claimants had referred to the content as well as the fact of the advice that had been given at this meeting in their witness statements.  Applying the decision in D (A Child)[2011] EWCA Civ 684 the Judge found that privilege had been waived and that “fairness” required the admission of this document.  In the end this evidence was not determinative of the case but its admission and subsequent use in cross-examination was the cause of some embarrassment to the claimants and to their legal advisors.

Clifford Darton and Faisel Sadiq acted for the successful defendant instructed by Mr Adrian Hargreaves of Excelsior Solicitors.

Both the trial and the judgment were widely reported in national press, see;