A judge ordered that Lars Steffensen, Founder and Managing Partner of Ebullio Capital Management, pay a former Partner and employee some £86,000 in outstanding severance payments and about £14,000 for costs of litigation.
Steffensen failed to appear for the trial, and evidence was presented that he had been notified.
It’s been a long, expensive road to get to this point…
Because Steffensen did not appear to present his case, the judge found for the claimant in a 20-minute hearing, which had been scheduled to last a full day.
Judge Heather Baucher said: “Having not attended the trial, and the court being satisfied that he (Steffensen) had due notice by email it is hereby ordered that the defence is struck out.”
The claimant had earlier told Finance Magnates outside the court that he had been promised severance pay of £100,000 upon leaving Ebullio in 2014. Some payments were made, but subsequently discontinued.
“It’s been a long, expensive road to get to this point, and it shouldn’t have taken this long,” the claimant said. “We’ve had three court hearings, we’ve had a costs hearing, we’ve had a summary judgement hearing, and now we’ve had a trial ⎼ none of which Ebullio has submitted any evidence to, or shown up for. They’ve not engaged or shown any interest at all.”
George Woodhead, barrister for the claimant, told Finance Magnates after the hearing: “The claim succeeded by default on two bases: number one, that there had been a failure to comply with a court order, namely that he had not filed a witness statement in time or at all; and the second one, that he had failed to attend trial despite evidence suggesting that he knew about the trial date.”
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It is the latest in a string of legal entanglements for the commodities hedge fund, which has applied to cancel its FCA authorisation. The judgements against Ebullio so far this year will be flagged in credit checks or require disclosures to investors conducting due diligence.
In a recent shareholder letter, dated 31 May, 2016, Steffensen wrote: “We have continued to labour on our only remaining task, namely the realization of our mining assets into cash, so that we can pay you, the shareholder your last statement value as calculated by Ifina.
…there had been a failure to comply with a court order…
“We now have a sufficiently clear picture on what is doable, so we can confirm a hard date for pay-out on all outstanding, outside investor shares. The pay-out will be on Friday 30 September 2016.”
The shareholder letter did not mention any legal actions, one which dates back to May 10 when a former investor received a court order to enforce a £150,000 judgement by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Steffensen did not respond to requests for an interview.
Peter Barker contributed to this report.