Who's Suing Whom: PGA takes a swing at publisher

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The Independent Online
THE PROFESSIONAL Golfers' Association (PGA) is suing a publishing company based in north London for planning a guide to the Ryder Cup without the PGA's permission.

The PGA has been managing the European leg of the Ryder Cup golfing tournament since 1927. The PGA says that EMP Plc, of EMP House, Pembroke Road, north London, is planning to publish Bernard Gallacher's Definitive Guide to Ryder Cup 1999 in a way which is "calculated to deceive" the public.

The PGA and its promotional company, "The Ryder Cup Ltd", say they have the sole right to market the tournament. They say that on 5 February EMP issued a flyer to a third party, Golf Publishing Ltd, offering advertising space for sale in a planned publication called Ryder Cup 1999 without their approval.

The PGA claims that the flyer's heading was calculated to lead a substantial number of people to believe that the magazine was approved and endorsed by the PGA.

The PGA is seeking an injunction to prevent EMP from publishing the planned guide. It is also seeking damages and costs.

AN ACTION group representing more than 1,500 Equitable Life policyholders is seeking to widen its case against the insurance company over a dispute that involves at least 100,000 pensions clients and pounds 4bn of assets, and which dates back over 30 years.

The Equitable Life Guaranteed Annuity Action Group is backing a writ issued last week by Keith Summerside, who bought a pension from Equitable in 1988.

The pension products under dispute promised savers a guaranteed rate of income from their savings when they came to retire and buy annuities.

However, since the time at which most of the policies were taken out, average annuity rates have fallen, threatening Equitable Life with huge liabilities if it were to pay out fully at the original, guaranteed rates.

In order to lessen the impact of this, Equitable Life used a clause in its Articles of Association to argue that it was allowed to change the value of the pension funds downwards. In practice this meant that the pensioners would end up being paid the same as if their annuity rates had originally been set at current, lower rates.

This caused an outcry among policyholders, who claimed that they should have been paid at the original, higher rates.

Last year the Pensions Ombudsman was going to rule on the matter. Then Equitable Life decided to launch its own test case to clarify under law whether it was allowed to vary these pay-out rates under its Articles of Association or not.

This case is due to come to court in July. But the action group is concerned that Equitable's legal test case is too narrowly drawn. Hence Mr Summerside's writ, which includes a 10-page statement of claim that covers the entire history of his case in detail.

The action group, which includes many pension trustees as well as clients, does not expect a ruling on either Equitable Life's case or Mr Summerside's until October at the earliest.

HEATHROW AIRPORT is trying to evict The League for Animal Welfare and Rescue and two of the League's employees from an area of land just to the west of the airport.

Heathrow says it let the land at 1-4 Perry Oaks Drive, Stanwell Moor Road, Longford, West Drayton, to the League under a tenancy agreement dated 6 February 1995.

The agreement was with the League and two individuals, Jan Stevens and Frank Halliday, who also have another working address at Bedfont, just to the south of the airport.

The airport says it terminated the tenancy agreement by letter on 22 March 1996 but the League has continued to occupy the land since then. Itwants the land back.

A ROW has broken out in the world of British classic cars over who has the right to the name "Healey", the former manufacturer of sports cars such as the Austin-Healey 3000 and the Austin-Healey Sprite.

Healey Automobile Consultants Ltd of Queen Street, Leeds, is suing Brian Rayward and three of his companies based in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire: Healey Sprite Motor Company, Healey Sprite Group and Healey Sprite Trucks.

The Austin-Healey Sprite was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A small two-seater convertible, the Mark I Sprite was memorable for its "frogeye" headlights, mounted on the top of the bonnet.

Healey Automobile is demanding that Mr Rayward's group of companies all change their names by dropping any reference to "Healey" or any other similar word.

The Leeds company is also seeking an injunction to stop Mr Rayward's firms from infringing their registered trade mark, and from selling any car parts or publishing any promotional material with the Healey name.

STILL ON the motoring side of things, McLaren International Ltd has taken legal action against the stores group WH Smith over drawings of the proposed new livery for McLaren's Formula One racing cars.

McLaren are the current world "double champions", having won both the Formula One constructors' award and the driver's championship in 1998. One of their drivers, Mika Hakkinen of Finland, is the Formula One Grand Prix world champion. He is partnered by David Coulthard of Scotland. McLaren are favourites again for this year's world championship.

McLaren is seeking an injunction to stop WH Smith from infringing the racing team's copyright in a series of drawings of a proposed new livery for the Grand Prix cars. It is understood that the drawings are contained in magazines distributed by WH Smith.