Steelux Holdings Ltd v Edmonstone (Née Hall)

CourtRoyal Court
Judgment Date03 May 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] JRC 62
Date03 May 2005
Steelux Holdings Limited
Mary Martine Edmonstone, nee Hall

[2005] JRC 62


Sir Philip Bailhache, Bailiff Jurats J C Tibbo and S J Le Cornu


(Samedi Division)

Advocate A. J. Clarke for the Plaintiff.

Advocate O. Blakeley for the Defendant.


This is an action on a simple summons for the recovery of the sum of £150,000 allegedly due on a promissory note signed by the defendant on 13th September 1991 and registered as a charge against the defendant's immovable property in Jersey on 1st August 2003. The claim is resisted on the basis that there is no debt and that the promissory note was signed as the result of misrepresentations made by the beneficial owner of the plaintiff company, Mr Malcolm Hall (“Mr Hall”).


The summons also claimed interest on the alleged debt in accordance with LIBOR as set out in the promissory note, but that claim was abandoned during oral submissions. We revert to that below.


The melancholy background to this action is the breakdown of the relationship between the defendant and Mr Hall, who is her stepfather. It is unnecessary to describe that breakdown in any detail. Suffice it to say that the parties were very close until 2002 when differences arose in relation to a joint enterprise involving the development of a property in London.


The brief history of the matter is that Mr Hall is a successful property developer living in Jersey. In 1989 he conceived the idea of developing properties in or near Green Street with a business partner. One of the properties to be developed was a house called ‘Villa des Pas’ (“the house”). Mr Hall negotiated the purchase of the house for £200,000 and applied to the Housing Committee under the relevant legislation for consent to the conveyance into a company called Nobel Property Investments Limited. The policy of the Committee at that time was not favourable towards the acquisition of dwelling accommodation by companies, and consent was accordingly refused. It was suggested, however, that consent would be forthcoming if the purchase were to be taken in the name of the defendant. The motives of Mr Hall in acceding to this suggestion seem to have been mixed. On the one hand, it is asserted that he intended to assist the defendant by ensuring that she acquired residential qualifications and was enabled to live in Jersey should she wish to do so. On the other hand, it was clearly convenient to him from an economic perspective to acquire the house for the purposes of his intended property development. It is clear that neither of the parties intended that the defendant should live in the house. Mr Hall wanted to knock it down, and the defendant had never seen it before it was acquired in her name.


Be that as it may, the house was purchased in the name of the defendant, and contract was passed on 12th January 1990. The defendant was represented in court by a specially appointed attorney. The whole of the consideration was provided by Mr Hall (and perhaps his business partner) through a company controlled by Mr Hall called Moneypenny Investments Limited (“Moneypenny”). Prior to the completion, the defendant executed a bond in the sum £150,000 in favour of Moneypenny. She was advised by a firm of English solicitors in relation to that bond which was in standard terms except that it bore no interest.


In 1991, Mr Hall decided to transfer the benefit of the alleged loan from Moneypenny to another company beneficially owned by him called Steelux Holdings Limited (“Steelux”) which is the plaintiff in this action. Mr Hall requested his stepdaughter, in circumstances which are in dispute, to sign the promissory note upon which this action is founded. She did so in the family home on 13th September 1991, signing at the same time an undated authority to an advocate of the Royal Court to appear on her behalf to acknowledge the debt. As we have stated, that was not in fact done until 1st August 2003 after the breakdown of the relationship between the parties. The promissory note was again in standard form. The material difference between the bond and the promissory note was that the latter carried interest at the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate. Interest was however never paid or indeed sought until the summons giving rise to these proceedings was issued.

The parties' contentions

Counsel for Steelux submitted that this was a very straightforward matter. Mr Hall had made a generous gift of the equity in the house to his step-daughter, the defendant, but had retained the benefit of the loan of £150,000 now secured by way of judicial hypothec against the house. He had never intended to make a gift of that sum of £150,000 to her. If he had had such an intention, there would have been no need to go to the trouble and expense of having a bond, and subsequently a promissory note, drawn up to record the debt. Mr Hall denied that he had ever represented to the defendant that he would never take steps to recover the debt.


The defendant asserted that Mr Hall had deceived her. According to...

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    ...2 A.C. 773; [2001] 3 W.L.R. 1021; [2001] 4 All E.R. 449; [2001] UKHL 44, applied. (6) Steelux Holdings Ltd. v. Edmonstone (ne Hall), 2005 JLR 152, considered. (7) Tomes v. Coke-Wallis, Royal Ct., July 17th, 2002, [2002] JRC 131A, unreported, applied. Texts cited: Chitty on Contracts, 29th e......
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    ...1 All E.R. 936; (1936), 155 L.T. 1; 52 T.L.R. 455; 105 L.J.P.C. 84, considered. (14) Steelux Holdings Ltd. v. Edmonstone (née Hall), 2005 JLR 152, referred to. (15) Sykes v. D.P.P., [1962] A.C. 528; [1961] 3 W.L.R. 371; [1961] 3 All E.R. 33; (1961), 45 Cr. App. R. 230; 125 J.P. 523, conside......
  • S. Marett v J. Marett and O’Brien
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    ...1996 JLR 210, applied. (35) Shepherd v. Robinson, [1919] 1 K.B. 474, referred to. (36) Steelux Hldgs. Ltd. v. Edmonstone (ne Hall), 2005 JLR 152, considered. (37) United Capital Corp. Ltd. v. Bender, 2006 JLR 269, referred to. (38) Vekaplast K.G. v. T.A. Picot (C.I.) Ltd., 1989 JLR 269, ref......
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