Mike Ashley wins £15m ‘pub deal’ High Court case

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has won a High Court case against Jeffery Blue, an investment banker, who claimed Ashley promised him £15m in a deal struck in a pub.

The case examined whether a contract was made between the claimant (Blue) and the defendant (Ashley) as a result of a conversation in the Horse & Groom pub, in London W1, in January 2013.

After hearing evidence, which including stories of excessive alcohol consumption, Mr Justice Leggatt ruled that while he accepts that “banter” can have a more serious underlying intent, no one would have thought what Ashley said in the pub was “serious”.

“No reasonable person present in the Horse & Groom on 24 January 2013 would have thought that the offer to pay Mr Blue £15 million was serious and was intended to create a contract, and no one who was actually present in the Horse & Groom that evening – including Mr Blue – did in fact think so at the time,” the judge said in his ruling.

He adds: “They all thought it was a joke. The fact that Mr Blue has since convinced himself that the offer was a serious one, and that a legally binding agreement was made, shows only that the human capacity for wishful thinking knows few bounds.”

  • For more on drunken ‘deals’ at work, here’s a piece in the Guardian, with lots of comments from Employment Solicitor magazine contributors.
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