Saturday 1 October 2016

Punter wins legal battle with leading on-line spread betting company

Ray Managh

Published 20/01/2016 | 13:52

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An English punter today won a legal battle with a leading Dublin on-line spread betting company despite a ban in Irish law against the recovery of gambling debts.

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Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke upheld a District Court decree for GB£10,660 Sterling (€13,835) in favour of Nottingham-based gambler Simon Morehen against Sports Spread Betting (Ireland) Ltd, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Barrister Stephen Hughes, counsel for analytical consultant Morehen, told the court his client in June 2014 had deposited GB£10,000 in an on-line account with Sports Spread Betting (Ireland).

Mr Hughes, who appeared with Ivor Fitzpatrick and Co solicitors, said Mr Morehen had become aware of a promotion offer in respect of new accounts whereby an initial deposit would be topped up by the on-line company with an extra 25 per cent.

When he had applied for the top-up the company replied that the bonus applied only to the first GB£2,000 and added only GB£500 to his account. Then Mr Morehen had made three small successful bets returning a profit of GB£160 which had been added to his account.

Mr Hughes said that on July 25, 2014 Mr Morehen requested a cheque withdrawal of the account balance for GB£10,660.  On August 6, 2014 he was told his account had been closed and a cheque would issue.

He said this had not happened and the District Court had awarded judgment in that amount against the company for having failed to deliver a defence.

Judge Groarke heard the company had sought to set aside the District Court judgment and when this had been refused had appealed the award to the Circuit Court.

Barrister William Martin-Smith, who appeared with solicitors Carley & Connellan for Sports Spread Betting (Ireland), said following inter-party talks that the company was prepared to pay Mr Morehen GB£10,000 together with District Court costs but wanted submissions on the legal costs of the appeal adjourned to a later date.

When Judge Groarke was later asked to determine the appeal he said it was not for his court to decide any issue of law banning recovery of gambling debts in Ireland.  In considering the company’s appeal to set aside the judgment an entirely different set of criteria applied.

Judge Groarke said Sports Spread Betting (Ireland) was well aware that Mr Morehen intended to proceed with his District Court action but had “made a purposeful decision not to engage in those proceedings.”

He said the court to some degree was conscious of the fact that the defendant acknowledged a payment should and would be made to Mr Morehen.  He affirmed the lower court’s judgment for GB£10,660 in order to “clear the tables” so that the company could consider if it wished to proceed with any legal issue raised by Section 36 (2) of the Gaming and Lotteries Act.

Judge Groarke awarded Mr Morehen District Court costs but made no order relating to costs of the appeal to the Circuit Court.

Brian O’Neill, a betting consultant to Sportsspread.com, told the court he had advised the company that gambling debts and gambling monies connected to gambling were not recoverable at law under Section 36 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956.  The recovery of monies ban had been upheld in the High Court in another case by Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh.

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