Discovery orders made over alleged crystal forgery

 

THE discovery of two containers filled with alleged counterfeit Waterford Crystal resulted in High Court orders yesterday for the production of documents relating to an Isle of Man registered company.

The discovery orders were made against Gabriel F. Haughton and Haughton solicitors, of Martello Terrace, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, and the Ulster Bank.

Ms Fidelma Macken SC, for Waterford Crystal Ltd, said the counterfeit went as far as to have the company's "seahorse" device impressed even on the tissue paper in which the product was wrapped.

Ms Macken said the shipment had been made from a Spanish port and it appeared the company making the product available - Waterford Crystal did not say they were the manufacturers - was Bexhill Consultants Ltd, an Isle of Man registered company. Payments, from the information which Waterford Crystal had, were made through Mr Haughton and Haughton solicitors into a Bexhill account in the Ulster Bank.

Ms Macken read an affidavit by Mr Michael Flynn, head of Waterford Crystal corporate affairs, who said that last December 9th it came to their attention that a very substantial quantity of counterfeit crystal glass was being passed off as Waterford Crystal and some had been put on the US market.

He was notified that a New York businessman believed certain Waterford Crystal delivered in the US might be counterfeit. The US businessman claimed he got Waterford Crystal from an English company, David Nagli Ltd (trading as Artistic Treasures), of Richmond, Surrey.

The US businessman went to Bilbao where he was shown samples of crystal glass bearing the name Waterford. Last October, the first shipment inspected in Spain arrived in New York.

A month later, the US businessman received a telephone call from a New York company that a spot inspection revealed flaws and the company formed the opinion the goods were counterfeit. A second shipment, in November, was rejected and sent back unopened to Felixstone in England. Mr Flynn said a British glass expert tested certain articles from the containers for Waterford Crystal and confirmed they were counterfeit.

The US businessman issued proceedings against David Nagli Ltd in England in January. The English company claimed it "made payments to Bexhill Consultants Ltd from whom it had arranged to purchase goods". It appeared from investigation that there were only nominee shareholders in Bexhill.

Mr Edmund Fry, solicitor for Waterford Crystal, in an affidavit said he received documentation showing Mr Haughton and his firm were involved in the transaction, acting for the supplier of the goods, Bexhill.

He was advised Mr Haughton and his firm should be requested to deliver up all documentation and give all relevant information to Waterford Crystal.

Mr Fry said that regarding monies paid by David Nagli for the goods, Mr Haughton confirmed monies were paid on foot of a letter of credit to Bexhill, care of Haughtons' bank account, Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre branch, and that monies received were duly paid out directly to Bexhill's Ulster Bank account in Blackrock.

Mr Haughton had confirmed he was the signatory on the Bexhill bank account in Blackrock and had been appointed signatory on the account by another Isle of Man company.

Ms Macken told Mr Justice O'Sullivan that so far as Haughtons were concerned, her clients were only saying that firm was "involved" and were putting it no further than that.

The order her clients were seeking would include discovery against any person who might be innocently involved or might have become embroiled, so as to assist those who were pursuing the persons who had infringed or were wrongdoers. Her clients were asking who were the owners of Bexhill.

Mr Joseph Finnegan SC, for Haughtons, said his client was being asked to deliver up documents belonging to a client, Bexhill, not before the court and any order could be seriously detrimental to that company.

Mr Haughton could not volunteer to deliver up documents or information; there was a solicitor client relationship which raised a duty of privilege. But as an officer of the court, Mr Haughton would comply with any order made by the judge.

Mr Alexander Owens, counsel for the Ulster Bank, said the issue for the bank was its duty of confidentiality to its customer.