The Judgment in this interesting case was handed down mid January 2012.
It was thought by some lawyers that Madison Ashton, the sometime mistress of deceased business tycoon Richard Pratt, might succeed, in part, in her $10 million claim for breach of contract. The Judge, however, disappointed the pundits.
The Judge dismissed Ms Ashton's claim in its entirety and ordered her to pay the defendant's costs (which amount to the best part of $1 million). A number of issues arose for determination by the Judge, as follows:
- Did Pratt make the alleged promises?
- Was there a binding contract?
- Was the defendant estopped from denying the claim?
- Had Ms Ashton compromised any claim that she may have?
The Judge found that Pratt had made numerous promises to Ashton, notwithstanding that he disbelieved some of her evidence.
The evidence as to conversations between the tycoon and his mistress provides a fascinating insight into orchestration of the extra mural trysts of the truly rich.
The evidence disclosed that Pratt had showered Ashton with cash and gifts even though, as the Judge found, "she was at liberty to bestow her favors on others also".
As to whether a contract existed between Pratt and Ashton, the Judge held that there was no intention to create a legally binding agreement.
More controversially he then went on to hold that, if there was a binding contract, it was void on public policy grounds.
RMB Phantom Lawyer.