Estate agents lose claim for £1.41m Lakshmi Mittal commission

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Three of Britain's top estate agents came away from the High Court empty handed today after losing their claim for £1.41 million commission on the sale of one of the most prestigious properties in London.

The agents wanted the money for the sale of a house in tree-lined Kensington Palace Gardens, first to Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and then to steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.

But the judge, Sir Edward Evans-Lombe, ruled that Savills, Glentree Estates and Beauchamp Estates had waived their right to commission on the first sale in an agreement to find the second buyer.

He also found that they had not proved that they brought about the second sale and dismissed the whole action.

The dispute was over 18-19 Kensington Palace Gardens, an 18-room mansion which stands among embassies and some of the most expensive houses in the world.

It was bought by a company controlling a trust fund set up to benefit Mr Ecclestone's former wife and his children in 2001 for £50 million, giving rise to a claim for £235,000 commission.

It was then sold on in 2004 to a company controlled by the Mittal family for £57,145,967, triggering the claim for £1.175 million.

The judge said that the estate agents were signed up to market the property in 2001 by the then owner, Iranian scholar and philanthropist David Khalili.

He had spent three years and more than £20 million turning the two houses into one, building a swimming pool and incorporating marble floors and pillars from the same quarry as that used for the Taj Mahal.

Mr Khalili had wanted £85 million for the property and agreed to pay the estate agents £1 million if they found a buyer, or £200,000 if he found a buyer without their help.

He was introduced to Mr Ecclestone by other property consultants and the first sale was agreed.

When Mr Ecclestone decided to sell up, the estate agents were said to have agreed to waive their fees for the sale in exchange for the chance to continue acting on the second sale, said the judge.

It was Mr Ecclestone himself who showed Mr Mittal's agent around the property, said the judge.