Gordon Ramsay bound by ghost signature of guarantee

Gordon Ramsay bound by ghost signature of guarantee

What are the implications of the recent case of Ramsay v Love which raised questions around the authority of agents to sign guarantees and whether guarantees can be signed by a ‘ghost signing’ machine?

Original news

Ramsay v Love [2015] EWHC 65 (Ch), [2015] All ER (D) 130 (Jan)

The business of the claimant, Gordon Ramsay was run, in large part, by Christopher Hutcheson. Mr Hutcheson operated a machine that automatically signed Mr Ramsay's signature onto a guarantee. The issue arose as to whether Mr Ramsay would be bound by the guarantee. The Chancery Division held that when Mr Hutcheson had committed Mr Ramsay to the guarantee, he had been acting within the wide general authority conferred on him by Mr Ramsay.

What are the facts of the case?

Northam Worldwide Ltd (Northam) granted a lease of premises to Gordon Ramsay Holdings International Ltd (GRHI). Under the terms of that lease, Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd (GRH) and Gordon Ramsay himself agreed to act as guarantors. The lease had apparently been signed as a deed by Mr Ramsay and witnessed by Christopher Hutcheson , who was a director of GRHI and also Mr Ramsay's father-in-law. In July 2011 Mr Love became entitled to acquire the reversion on the lease and in November 2012 the reversion was assigned by Northam to Mr Love. In September 2011, Mr Ramsay told Mr Love that he was not bound by the guarantee.

The main question was whether Mr Ramsay was bound by the guarantee apparently given by him. Mr Ramsay contested that it was not binding as he did not sign the deed—his signature had been placed on that document by means of a signature writing machine operated by or under the direction of Mr Hutcheson. Mr Ramsay said that Mr Hutcheson did not have authority to place Mr Ramsay's apparent signature on the document. It was accepted that if Mr Ramsay had operated the machine, the signature

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About the author:

Meet Emma:

1.Banking and finance lawyer with experience in derivatives, debt capital markets, securitisation and structured finance in London and Paris

2.Likes ballet, playing the harp and holidays

3.Thinks the law is always changing!

Emma trained and qualified at Allen & Overy LLP and worked in their derivatives and structured finance teams in London and Paris.  She then joined the foreign exchange prime brokerage legal team at Deutsche Bank before spending 4 ½ years with Crédit Agricole CIB advising the fixed income and derivatives desk.