Christian Braun and his property consultancy Van de Berg & co Ltd dishonestly used confidential information to sell properties to rival companies whilst exclusively working for JD Wetherspoon, the High Court found today.
A judge ruled today that Braun, who had built up an ‘extremely close relationship’ with the pub chain’s enigmatic founder Tim Martin, had deceived Wetherspoon’s over potential purchases of a number of freehold properties as a part of its aggressive expansion strategy.
The court heard that from 1999 Van De Berg was paid a fee to exclusively act for JD Wetherspoon’s in acquiring 85 properties a year.
However the court found that in relation to 13 properties in places such as Canterbury, Sidcup and Folkestone, Van De Berg had used information obtained for JD Wetherspoon’s to sell freeholds to property companies.
Tim Martin said: ‘We are delighted by the result. The defendants were dealing with us on the basis of trust and received fees of many millions of pounds over a long period.
‘It was astonishingly dishonest to divert properties to third parties. A lot of people think that anything goes in the property market and this case shows that that’s not true.’
Van De Berg employees George Aldridge and Richard Harvey were also found liable for dishonestly assisting Braun.
The damages to be paid by Van De Berg will be decided at a later date.