DECEMBER 6, 2004
Banks win summary judgement in F1 case
The fact that Bernie Ecclestone has lost his case with the Formula 1 banks is not really a surprise. There were months of wrangling over jurisdiction after Mr Justice Lewison decided in July that the British courts could rule on the matter. This was appealed and it was not until November 12 that the case went to the Appeal Court and was rejected by Justices Carnwath, Neuberger and Aldous. As a result of that the case went ahead on November 22 with Mr Justice Park listening to the arguments and deciding to retire to consider whether or not the case needed to go to trial.
The important question now is what the Mr Justice Park concludes with regard to the control of the other companies in the Formula One group. That decision could be of great importance in the likely cases involving Formula One Management and Formula One Administration and, perhaps more importantly, in any case in which the banks claim damages against Ecclestone and his colleagues. The pressure is therefore on for Ecclestone to come up with a solution to keep the banks happy although we continue to hear that they have decided that no matter what happens they will not sell the shares in the business back to Ecclestone.
If that is the case and the banks win control of the entire Formula One group it is going to put the FIA in an interesting situation because the federation cannot easily support any new championship idea when it has sold its commercial rights to SLEC.
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