Stephen Auld QC and Rachel Oakeshott acted for Cherrilow Limited in its successful claim against Richard Butler-Creagh for damages for fraudulent misrepresentation and a declaration that it was not liable to him in the sum of £5 million or any other sum.
In a judgment handed down on 6 October 2011 (following a three week trial in July), Eady J held that Cherrilow’s claim in deceit had succeeded and awarded Cherrilow damages of £7.4 million. Cherrilow also obtained a freezing injunction over Mr Butler-Creagh’s assets.
Cherrilow’s claims arose out of its purchase of a large property on the river at Henley-on-Thames called Fawley Court, which is thought to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren and may have been the inspiration for Toad Hall in “The Wind in the Willows”. Cherrilow was incorporated in Jersey in December 2008 as a special purpose vehicle to buy Fawley Court at the instigation of Aida Hersham, a few weeks after she had first been shown around the property by Mr Butler-Creagh. Mr Butler-Creagh claimed at that time to have the benefit of an exclusivity arrangement with the vendors of Fawley Court, the Marian Fathers, so that only he could buy it.
Contracts were exchanged on 10 December 2008 and completion took place in April 2010.
A month later, Mr Butler-Creagh brought a claim against Ms Hersham for a fee of £5 million which he said she had agreed to pay him for allowing her to “step into his shoes”.
In April 2011 Cherrilow began its action against Mr Butler-Creagh, claiming that it had agreed to buy Fawley Court in reliance on his fraudulent misrepresentations and had suffered significant loss, being the difference between the amount it had agreed to pay and Fawley Court’s true value in December 2008, plus consequential losses. Mr Butler-Creagh brought a counterclaim against Cherrilow for a quantum meruit.
The cases were ordered to be heard together on a highly expedited timetable. Cherrilow’s claims succeeded, and Mr Butler-Creagh’s claim against Ms Hersham and counterclaim against Cherrilow were dismissed.
In his judgment Eady J found that Mr Butler-Creagh had “told lie after lie” in his evidence and that, “He was an unusual witness. He gave the impression of being quite confident and self-assured. Yet it emerged very clearly from his two days and more of cross-examination that he lives in a parallel universe where truth and falsehood imperceptibly merge, the one into the other, he being quite insensitive to the distinction between them.”