£40,000 payout after holiday website row

Posted: 12th September 2014

planeThe owner of a successful holiday firm which suffered substantial disruption and loss when a third party ‘took control’ of the website it used, and attempted to put off its customers, has been awarded almost £40,000 in damages by the High Court.

Businessman A had established the firm on an 80-acre farm before selling it to businessman B, who was also granted a seven-year lease of the farm. Businessman B had made a considerable investment in developing the firm and particularly the website, which had played a critical part in its success. However, the website had throughout remained registered in the name of businessman A.

When the lease was approaching its end, businessman B took steps to move the firm to new premises and to retain its client base. However, businessman A took control of the website and blocked access to its content, save for an announcement which had the effect of misleading and luring away businessman B’s customers.

After businessman B launched proceedings, businessman A agreed to relinquish control of the website and admitted passing off and unlawful interference with trade. He was ordered to pay businessman B damages of £39,701 to compensate him for lost profits, costs and expenses arising from the unlawful acts.