Rights to wine lake tested in court case

WINE CUSTOMERS who left thousands of cases in the cellars of a merchant who went out of business asked the High Court yesterday to rule in a test case to decide whether they are entitled to their property, writes Stephen Ward.

The receivers, Nigel Vooght and Christopher Hughes, argue that although the cases had been paid for, unless they were individually labelled as belonging to a particular customer, they should go to the National Westminster Bank, which has first call on any assets of the failed company, Ellis Son and Viddler, of Lewes in East Sussex.

The court was told by Peter Arden, for the receivers, that buyers commonly pay a merchant to store their wine until they want to drink it, to preserve it in perfect condition. Some wine would have been bought through the merchant and some elsewhere.

Roger ter Haar QC, for the customers, said a stock book identified how much of each wine each customer owned.

The case continues today.

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