Former Glasgow Rangers football club owner Craig Whyte lost the latest round of a High Court fight with a ticket-buying firm yesterday and was likened to a character in a Charles Dickens novel.
Craig Whyte appealed after being ordered to pay more than £17million to Ticketus earlier this year.
He asked Deputy High Court Judge David Halpern QC to overturn the ruling, made by a more junior judge, at a hearing in London. But Judge Halpern dismissed his appeal and suggested that Mr Whyte had been over-optimistic – like Wilkins Micawber, a character in Dickens’ 1850 novel David Copperfield.
Ticketus said Mr Whyte fraudulently or negligently made representations which induced the company to enter into agreements related to the sale or purchase of Rangers season tickets, and claimed damages.
Mr Whyte disputed the claim.
In April a High Court master – a procedural judge who dealt with the action before it was due to be heard before a trial judge – ruled against Mr Whyte, after Ticketus argued that he had “no real prospect” of mounting a successful defence.
The master ordered Mr Whyte to pay £17.6m. Lawyers for Mr Whyte appealed and argued that the master’s decision to grant a “summary judgment” had been unfair.
They said the case should be allowed to go to trial and said Mr Whyte had a “realistic” defence.
Judge Halpern heard evidence and legal argument at the High Court in London in November.
In his ruling he said the master was entitled to give “summary judgment” and he would have reached the same conclusion.
“It was argued that the case should go to trial because of its complexity and financial value and because Mr Whyte is disadvantaged in not having the relevant documents or legal resources,” said Judge Halpern.
“In my judgment the master was right to reject these arguments, which I regard as pure Micawberism.”
Judge Halpern said lawyers had said “everything that could be said” on Mr Whyte’s behalf. But he added: “I have reached the clear conclusion that the master was entitled to give summary judgment … I would have reached the same conclusion.”
He said Mr Whyte must pay all the legal costs of the appeal – a sum thought to total tens of thousands of pounds.
A name that became part of our language
ONE of Dickens’ best-known creations, Wilkins Micawber appeared in the 1850 novel David Copperfield.
Micawber has entered popular culture as a character known for asserting his faith that “something will turn up”.
His name has become synonymous with someone who lives in hopeful expectation.
This has formed the basis for the Micawber Principle, based upon his observation: “Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 pounds 19 and six, result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds nought and six, result misery.”
The character’s distinctiveness has seen the name became the noun “Micawber” and spawn the adjectives “Micawberish” and “Micawberesque”.
The character was based on Dickens’ father John, who, like Micawber, served time in debtors’ prison after failing to meet his creditors’ demands.
In the classic 1935 big-screen adaptation of the book he was played by WC Fields, while in the 1999 television series, actor Bob Hoskins took on the role. In 2001, the character formed the basis of Micawber, a 2001 ITV drama series.