Contract caterer Sodexho Prestige is being taken to court after being accused of making false claims about the size of a restaurant it hired to an events company during Royal Ascot last year.
Cavendish Consultancy spent almost £1m booking the luxury Parade Ring restaurant for three days at the newly reopened racecourse in June 2006.
Sodexho Prestige, trading as Ascot Hospitality, assured Cavendish that the restaurant could comfortably seat 260 guests at private tables each seating between two and 12 people, according to a High Court writ issued last week.
But on the first day of Royal Ascot, with prices of £785 per person, 260 guests of Allied Irish Bank found the restaurant cramped, the writ says. Cavendish decided that for the next two days, with prices rising to £1,145 and £985 a day, only 160 guests could reasonably be seated in the restaurant, and distributed 100 fewer tickets than planned.
Cavendish is suing Ascot Hospitality for making allegedly false representations that the restaurant could comfortably hold 260 people in a series of e-mails before the event was booked.
Cavendish is also seeking damages for breach of contract, and is demanding repayment of the cost of an additional 100 tickets per day, of £342,512.50, and additional management time dealing with the lack of space issue, of £40,000.
According to the writ, the events company e-mailed Ascot Hospitality with its concerns over lack of space on 27 May, and on June 1 the caterer provided a floor plan with informal handwritten dimensions, showing a dining area allowing 0.9sq m per person, without allowing for a "tote" facility.
But Cavendish argues that a reasonable amount of space per person for a luxury top-end event is 1.5sq m per person, which was the area used when the two companies sold hospitality packages for the Rugby World Cup in Australia.
Sodexho Prestige said it would not comment on the case ahead of the hearing.
By court reporter