Father fails in bid to lay claim to share of sons Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel empire

08 April 2014
Father fails in bid to lay claim to share of sons Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel empire

A father has failed in a High Court bid to lay claim to a share of his son's multimillion-pound hotel empire.

During the hearing last November the judge moved his court room to London's May Fair hotel to hear the claim of 86-year-old Balminder Singh against his son Jasminder, 62.

But today Sir William Blackburne returned to the formal court rooms at London's Rolls Building to throw out Singh senior's claim.

Singh senior had argued that he was entitled, under Sikh tradition, to a third of what he claimed was the family wealth. Assets involved included Tetworth Hall, on the edge of Ascot racecourse, where all the family live together, and Jasminder's shares in the hotel group, which the judge said were worth several million pounds. Jasminder is believed to be worth around £415m, but the court claim was said to be worth about £50m.

During the trial, the judge sat in the group's flagship May Fair hotel, which is part of the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel chain, to hear Singh senior's evidence, because he was too ill to travel to the courts.

But after hearing the evidence, he rejected the claim that Singh junior was bound by the Sikh tradition of Mitakshara to share his wealth with the family.

He said that Jasminder who "took little interest in the religious side of Sikhism", could not be bound by what he found was more of an "unspoken assumption".

He said that Balminder and his wife had made the claim in "all good faith believing it to be well founded", but continued: "The root of the difference between them and Jasminder was caused by their very different upbringings and, as a result, their very different perceptions."

Though Balminder was brought up in rural British India, and his wife Satwant in Kenya, he said that "for good or ill" they arranged for their son to be educated at Christian mission schools in East Africa, before he completed his education in the UK.

"In his witness statement he said, and reinforced this in the course of cross-examination, that he took little interest in the religious side of Sikhism."

He found that the principles of Mitakshars required much more than the "unspoken assumption" that property they acquired would be shared.

In a written witness statement before the judge, Singh Senior had said: "I and his mother are deeply ashamed that Jasminder should publicly renounce his cultural heritage and the mutual rights and obligations of the family system in which he was brought up.

"The respect which we have earned as a family has been the basis for the success of our business in this country.

"For Jasminder to deny that and claim all the credit and ownership for himself will be shocking to wide sections of [Sikh and Hindu] communities, particularly our family friends. That is why his mother and I are so ashamed."

He also claimed that Jasminder had a "domineering personality".

Under cross examination at the hotel, he told the judge that he was unhappy at being removed as a director of the group three years ago and said he felt that he was still capable of contributing to the company.

In written submissions before the court, Jasminder's lawyers denied that the relationship between him and his father was governed by the principles and practices of the "Hindu joint family", and that he never had any intention that the "Mitakshara" concept of joint Hindu property would apply.

Father of Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel chain boss says he is ashamed of his son >>

Radisson Blu Edwardian boss in High Court battle with father >>

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