Hanger Holdings v (1) Perlake Corporation SA and (2) Simon Croft – Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 81 (Ch)
In a judgment handed down on Tuesday 19th January 2021, Simons Muirhead & Burton LLP won a claim to recover the domain name blackjack.com on behalf of the client, Hanger Holdings, from online gambling entrepreneur Simon Croft. SMB Managing Partner Razi Mireskandari and Senior Associate David Phillips acted in the litigation with Jonathan Hill of 8 New Square as counsel.
Hanger Holdings entered into an agreement with Uruguayan company, Perlake Corporation S.A, which was owned and controlled by Simon Croft. Under the agreement Hanger Holdings was entitled to commission from users of the gambling website and to see audited financial statements. Little commission was ever paid, eventually this dried up entirely and no audited financial statements were ever provided.
When Hanger Holdings took legal steps to recover the domain Simon Croft produced a loan agreement, claiming it was drafted in 2005, which he said entitled him to transfer the domain to himself.
HHJ Hacon found that the loan agreement was likely to have been created much later, and in any event did not entitle him to transfer the domain name to himself.
A spokesperson for Hanger Holdings said “Blackjack.com was recognised as online gaming site of the year 2 years in a row. When we didn’t receive commission or audited statements as per our agreement it raised concerns. We are happy to have this case behind us and grateful for the diligent work of SMB to rightfully retrieve our domain. The detail and preparation for the trial was unparalleled.”
SMB and a spokesperson for Hanger Holdings also commented “We are also grateful to Temple for having provided both litigation insurance and disbursement funding all the way to trial. The disbursement funding was particularly useful to fund mediator fees, court fees and the fees of the experts required which included a Cayman Island lawyer, a Uruguayan lawyer and a forensic IT expert. Temple’s integrated assistance.
helped greatly to bring this matter to a swifter and successful conclusion than might otherwise have been the case. Temple provided a very quick service.”
Matthew Pascall, Senior Underwriting Manager, commented “This was a case with twists and turns and I am delighted that we were able to assist the client promptly so that their quest for resolution has been brought to a successful conclusion at trial. The use of Temple’s litigation insurance and disbursement funding in this case proved to be helpful and effective.”
The full judgment is available here (link to https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2021/81.html)
Since the judgment the trial judge has given limited permission to appeal.