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Everyone sues everyone else

Everyone sues everyone else

There seems to a raft of international lawsuits underway involving the Middle East, particularly in the property sector. Kipp takes a closer look at a few grabbing the headlines.

June 27, 2010 12:48 by

The latest lawsuit is again between a British company and a Middle Eastern one. This time Hopkins Architects, a top British architectural and engineering company, is suing Dubai Properties Group.

The dispute concerns a pair of stalled towers in Dubai’s financial center. Hopkins has filed a claim in the Dubai International Financial Center Courts for more than AED 27 million in allegedly unpaid fees and costs relating to the Central Park 08 project.

Central Park 08 was to be twin buildings, of about 50 storeys each, close to the Gate building in the DIFC. Hopkins was hired in May 2005 by Dubai Properties with a contract worth AED 50.8m. Hopkins alleges it is owed AED 27m, including overtime, loss of profit, costs incurred from changes to plans and other expenses.

“Disputes between developers and contractors have arisen across the Emirates after the sudden decline of the property market in late 2008 began to affect sales of units in new projects. More disputes have also arisen between developers and buyers,” observes the National.

Recent legal action is not limited to the property world, however. As Kipp reported yesterday, the Gucci Group, the famed luxury and fashion chain, is suing the great-granddaughter of its founder over a proposed hotel chain.

Elisabetta Gucci, whose great-grandfather Guccio Gucci founded the label in Florence in 1921, has partnered with Abu Dhabi developer Baitek International Real Estate to develop launch a global chain of up-market hotels, starting in Dubai.

Gucci Group NV, owned by French company PPR SA, filed a lawsuit this week in Florence against Elisabetta Gucci and her partners. The company confirmed in an emailed response to Bloomberg News that it was “seeking injunctive relief in order to protect its rights.”

Ms Gucci plans to open an 87 suite property in Dubai’s Media City by the end of the year, according to Lorens Ziller, managing director of her EG Hotels company.

“Elisabetta Gucci is doing her job,” Ziller said in a June 23 interview. “She cannot cancel her name or her background. If she has a famous name or a famous background, that’s not her fault and we are not trying to use it as much.”

But Gucci Group’s email to Bloomberg said: “Gucci wants to make clear that it has no relationship to Elisabetta Gucci Hotels and that it is not involved in any project whatsoever with Elisabetta Gucci Hotels. If necessary, Gucci will take any needful step to protect its rights.”

In the case of a property dispute with a great deal of money involved, Kipp can understand the need for legal recourse to recoup losses. But in Gucci’s case, it seems that the legal case could do more harm than good. How can they stop her using her own surname? Besides which, a Gucci versus Gucci story is great content for the world’s media, and will surely bring excellent publicity for Elisabetta’s new hotel.

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