Replacement Rolls Royce appeal dismissed
A rich businessman trying to claim more than £90,000 to cover the cost of hiring a replacement Rolls-Royce when his was dented in a minor accident lost the latest round of a legal battle in a UK court today.
Hardip Singh, a partner in a property development business, said he dealt with "millionaires" and "celebrities", and used a Rolls-Royce to give the "correct impression".
But a county court judge dismissed his claim - suggesting that the case raised a "moral question" and was "a testament ... to the superficial if not false nature of the warped values of society".
Mr Singh failed to persuade the Court of Appeal that Judge Peter Cowell "appeared biased" and had shown a "hostile animus" towards him.
Three appeal judges today dismissed an appeal and said Judge Cowell had been entitled to conclude that Mr Singh did not establish the "need" for a replacement Rolls-Royce while his was being repaired.
Appeal judges were told, at a hearing in London, that Mr Singh was driving a Rolls-Royce owned by his business, and worth about £250,000, when the accident happened in central London in August 2009.
They heard that the Rolls-Royce was left with a dent in its rear door - after Mr Singh was involved in a collision with a vehicle driven by Rashed Yaqubi - and repairs took about seven weeks to complete.
Mr Singh hired a Bentley for five days then another Rolls-Royce. He made a claim against Mr Yaqubi - saying a replacement Rolls-Royce cost about £2,000 a day to hire.
Lord Justice Pill, who heard the appeal with Lady Justice Black and Sir Stanley Burnton, said Mr Singh complained that Judge Cowell had shown a "hostile animus" when ruling against him.
The appeal court was told that Judge Cowell had outlined a number of concerns following a hearing at the Central London County Court in February 2012.
"This case raises the moral question which has occasioned me much anxious thought," Judge Cowell had said.
"Whether the ever increasing insurance premiums of the ordinary motorist, particularly one struggling to make ends meet and needing a modest car to go to work, should in some part be used so that the rich may continue at no expense to themselves to be filled with good things that they think they need."
Judge Cowell had noted how Mr Singh said he was in the property business dealing with millionaires and used the Rolls Royce "to maintain the correct impression in such circles".
The judge said Mr Singh had spoken of needing to "to maintain his image" and said "maintenance of image of success was paramount".
"Well, what a testament that is to the superficial if not false nature of the warped values of society, or as the claimant himself put it 'that is how these people see it', referring to a list of celebrities ... the claimant had as his clientele," Judge Cowell had said.
"That is a very subjective view which ... is unsupported by detailed evidence."
Judge Cowell had said the court was entitled to be given "clear factual evidence of need".
He had then quoted a verse in Hilaire Belloc's poem The Elephant - from the Bad Child's Book of Beasts - about the elephant who is supplied with many tons of hay a day.
Lord Justice Pill said there was nothing to suggest that Judge Cowell had neglected his duties or overlooked his responsibilities - and Lady Justice Black and Sir Stanley Burnton agreed.
"The serious irregularity is said to be a hostile animus shown by the judge towards the appellant and his case," said Lord Justice Pill.
"The appellant is a rich man and the damaged Rolls Royce was worth in the region of a quarter of a million pounds."
But he rejected Mr Singh's complaint.
"There is nothing in this case to suggest that the judge neglected his duties or overlooked his responsibilities," said Lord Justice Pill.
"Comments of the kind made by the judge are not to be encouraged but the manner and openness of their expression in this case encourages rather than discourages a conclusion that he was well aware of his responsibility to consider the evidence fairly and to decide the case, not on personal whim, but on legal principles and in accordance with the evidence."
Lord Justice Pill added: "While Mr Singh's claim was a personal one, he relied on the need of the partnership, for business purposes, for a replacement Rolls Royce during repair.
"In my judgment, the judge was entitled to find that need had not been established. Very large hire claims such as this one should be scrutinised carefully."