Going for gold: High Court looks at an unusual stakeholder claim under CPR Part 86

14 Apr 2021

In Kitover v Galmarley Limited (trading as Bullionvault.com) [2021] EWHC 809 (Ch), the High Court was asked to determine a stakeholder claim under CPR Part 86 in unusual circumstances.

Bullionvault, a broker, held approx. 4kg of gold on behalf of a client, Mr Haller. But in June 2018, a Mr Kitover flew to London from the US, attended Bullionvault’s offices, and said that he was Mr Haller. 

Mr Kitover explained that he had opened an account with Bullionvault in a false name, using a false passport, and having deposited funds with Bullionvault via an account in Mr Haller’s name. He threatened to sue Bullionvault if it did not return ‘his’ gold or the proceeds of sale.

Bullionvault applied to the Court using the stakeholder procedure. At a directions hearing, Master Teverson ordered there to be a trial of whether Mr Haller and Mr Kitover were one and the same person, and if so, what should happen to the gold.

At the trial in March 2021, Pat Treacy (sitting as a Judge of the Chancery Division) concluded that Part 86, which requires the stakeholder to demonstrate that “competing claims are … expected to be made”,  applied to the claim, notwithstanding Bullionvault did not know whether Mr Haller existed. 

The Judge went on to find, despite Mr Kitover’s evasiveness about whether he had appearance-altering plastic surgery, and “…the evidential picture [being] far from complete, it is more likely than not that Mr Kitover’s account of events is true and that the evidence establishes, on the balance of probabilities, that he did use a false name to open the Bullionvault account and that Mr Haller is the same person as Mr Kitover…”.

Mr Kitover’s admitted illegality did not amount to a bar to the claim, and the proceeds of sale of the gold were ordered to be released to him.

Mr Kitover was ordered to pay Bullionvault’s costs on the indemnity basis. 

The story has been picked up the by the national press such as The Telegraph.

Oliver Hyams acted for Bullionvault.


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