Saturday 20 January 2018

Gubay is fighting legal case from grave

Albert Gubay
Albert Gubay
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Deceased multi-millionaire businessman Albert Gubay, who owned the Total Fitness chain and lived in Ireland for a number of years, directed his estate's executors in his will to fully finance the ongoing defence of claims made against him by his former lieutenant Peter Willers, it has emerged.

Mr Willers has been pursuing a £3m-plus (€3.4m) action in the Isle of Man against Mr Gubay, and now his estate, for money he claims he was promised by the late businessman, who sacked Mr Willers in 2009.

Mr Gubay's mother was Irish and he was once involved in supermarket businesses in Ireland and the UK. He died in 2016.

A judgment in the Isle of Man action is due later this year.

But Mr Willers also sued Mr Gubay, and now his executors, in London.

In that landmark case, Mr Willers has claimed that Mr Gubay engaged in the pursuit of malicious prosecution against Mr Willers.

Both the Isle of Man case and the London action began while Mr Gubay was alive.

Mr Willers was hired by Mr Gubay in 1986. He was dismissed in 2009.

Mr Willers has claimed that Mr Gubay, who before his death said he would leave half his fortune to the Catholic Church, was extremely litigious, and "had the habit of pursuing vendettas against other people".Mr Willers has claimed in the London court that he has been the subject of such a vendetta.

Mr Willers was fired, it has been claimed, after he allegedly initiated legal action taken by one of Mr Gubay's companies, Langstone, against Aqua Design and Play, the builder of allegedly defective swimming pools at the Total Fitness chain.

The amount recoverable in the action was estimated at between £250,000 and £400,000, but the legal bill attributed to Mr Gubay's firm allegedly rose to £900,000 and the actions were unsuccessful or not continued.

That prompted Mr Willers' sacking by Mr Gubay.

Mr Gubay's company subsequently took an action in London against Mr Willers for £1.9m (€2.2m), claiming that the litigation against Aqua and subsequent related proceedings gave rise to serious breaches of his duties as a director and caused a loss to Langstone.

Mr Willers countered that Mr Gubay was a shadow director of Langstone and that the decision to pursue Aqua was his, or done with his consent.

That Langstone action against Mr Willers was subsequently discontinued. Mr Willers then sued Mr Gubay for malicious prosecution - an action that was allowed to proceed following a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

Mr Willers has been seeking to amend his particulars of claim in the case and seeks £3.5m (€4m) in damages.

Irish Independent

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