Bal Singh denied appeal in Edwardian battle

19 December 2014 by
Bal Singh denied appeal in Edwardian battle

A father today failed to revive his doomed legal claim to a share of his hotel group boss son's millions.

One of the country's most senior judges, Lord Justice Patten, refused Bal Singh, 86, permission to appeal in his claim against Edwardian Group chairman and chief executive Jasminder Singh, 62 (pictured).

Mr Singh senior had claimed that he was entitled, under Sikh tradition, to a third of what he claimed was the family wealth, including Tetworth Hall, on the edge of Ascot racecourse, where all the family live together, and Jasminder's shares in the 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.

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

Refusing Mr Singh senior permission to appeal today, Lord Justice Patten said that, while the Mitakshara principle of joint family property could be given effect under English law, the existence of such a trust depends upon "proof of the necessary shared intention that the relevant property should be held on those terms".

"This was a question of fact for the trial judge," he said.

He found that judge Sir William Blackburne had conducted a "painstaking analysis of the evidence", and was not persuaded that an appeal against his findings would have any real prospect of success.

In the decision that Mr Singh senior had sought to challenge, Sir William Blackburne said that he and his wife - Jasminder's mother, Satwant - 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 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.

The judge continued: "Almost from the time that he arrived in the UK, Jasminder abandoned the turban - the most striking outward symbol of a male Sikh - and cut his hair. Jasminder may therefore have been brought up as a Sikh, but he was non-observant as regards outwards appearances and evidently unconcerned to familiarise himself with the written form of the vernacular language in which conversation within the family was conducted.

"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 Mitakshara required much more than the "unspoken assumption" that property they acquired would be shared.

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