Playboy has been given the green light to sue the Italian subsidiary of BNP Paribas for deceit over the unpaid cheques who were issued by a gambler who vanished after using its Mayfair casino.
Playboy Club operates a members-only club and casino in the high-flying district. It has been pursuing Banca Nazionale Del Lavaro for providing a credit reference to Hassan Barakat, a Lebanese gambler, who took out £1.2 million from the cheque cashing facility of Playboy prior to disappearing from the casino.
It was later revealed that there was no money in the BNL account of Barakat. When Playboy presented the cheques that were issued by Barakat for payment, they were rejected by BNL, saying that they were forgeries.
Playboy tried to sue the bank for negligence. However, BNL claimed that Paola Guidetti, the employee who had signed the reference, had, in fact, also had her signature forged. The bank said that therefore they had not authorised the reference to Barakat. Guidetti was later terminated by the bank. BNL did not disclose the reason for her termination.
Last July, the Supreme Court dismissed the negligence claim. However, Playboy then issued a new claim against BNL for deceit. It says that it was able to obtain some evidence that may prove that Guidetti may have been involved in another fraud against Les Ambassadeurs, another London casino, that is also based in Mayfair.
BNL disputed that there should have been at least one trial to decide the negligence and deceit claims that were brought up by Playboy. It also said that bringing the deceit claim after having the negligence claim dismissed by the court is considered as an abuse of the process.
On Wednesday, however, the Court of Appeal disagreed with BNL. The court decreed: “This is not a case in which a party has deliberately decided for tactical reasons to keep the material up its sleeve in relation to a deceit claim until after it sees what happens with its negligence claim. The fair inference is that the club has proceeded to bring the deceit claim by reason of new evidence becoming available which is highly material and strongly supportive of that claim.”
It added: “It cannot be said that the club’s conduct in bringing its deceit claim amounts to “unjust harassment” of BNL. The club is not abusing the process of the court in bringing and pursuing its deceit claim.”
BNL sought a permission to appeal to the Supreme Court over the deceit claim, however, its application was rejected by the Court of Appeal. This could give BNL the opportunity to directly apply to the Supreme Court.
The bank has also been directed to pay £110,000 of the costs of Playboy.
Both BNL and Playboy declined to comment on the matter.