Wetherspoon files £3.3m property claim

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Cheap and cheerful pub chain JD Wetherspoon has accused its former property agent of causing it to lose £3.35m, the latest development in a bitter legal battle.

The claim is understood to have been made in a writ lodged at the High Court and is part of an ongoing action against Van de Berg, Wetherspoon's one-time property agent.

Tim Martin, the founder and chairman of Wetherspoon, first used Van de Berg in 1989 to help him find suitable freehold and leasehold properties. The FTSE 250 chain continued to use the property company until March 2005, when the relationship came to an end and the legal action got under way.

Wetherspoon, which has opened pubs in a variety of unusual properties, including former theatres and post offices, originally accused Van de Berg of breach of contract and fiduciary duty relating to four property transactions.

It then added claims of "serious" breaches of contract and fiduciary duty relating to 10 other property transactions.

Wetherspoon declined to comment on the writ detailing the alleged losses. The chain has so far refused to discuss the case, which is due to come to court in October, although it did make a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange in November last year. In this, the group gave details of the claims it was making against Van de Berg and the other defendants, who, it said, were "either directors or ex-directors of Van de Berg or companies associated with those directors".

It added: "Wetherspoon are pleased that this very serious matter will be heard by the courts next year."

John Clement, a partner at law firm Turbervilles, which is acting for Van de Berg, said he was not able to speak for his client: "The claim has been going on for a while and my client is intending to defend it. The defence will be filed in due course."

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