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Hotel chain founder loses multi-million pound case against son

By Tess De La Mare

The octogenarian co-founder of a UK-based luxury hotel chain has lost a court battle with his son to force him share the wealth generated by the enterprise he helped to build.

Bal Mohinder Singh, 87, co-founded the Radisson Blu Edwardian chain with his son Jasminder, 63, after immigrating to the UK from India via Kenya in the 1970s.

He claimed that the Sikh tradition of mitakshara obliges Jasminder to share his wealth with his family because he was raised as a Sikh.

In a witness statement, Jasminder countered he had never had a particularly religious upbringing and he had no formal agreement with his parents to share property, nor was their an implied agreement.

The family's first business was a small post office, before buying a bed and breakfast in Kensington – over the next three decades Singh and his son steadily brought up high-profile hotels including the Savoy Court and the May Fair in central London.

The chain was originally called the Edwardian Group, before joining forces with the Carlson family's US-based Radisson brand to form Radisson Blu Edwardian in 1997 – the business is now worth more than £800 million (€970 million).

Although he provided the initial capital, Singh said he put his son in charge because of his level of English and his accountancy skills.

Singh claims his son forced him to retire in 2010 and has since failed to share dividends generated by the business. 

Singh's counsel, John McDonnell QC, said: "The father is not claiming a share of any of Jasminder's wealth acquired by his [Singh's] own efforts.

"It is our claim that Jasminder's wealth is the family's wealth. The only cash put into the family's empire is that put in by the father in the 70s." 

However, the judge dismissed the £50 million claim, saying the root of the problem was the difference in upbringing of the father and son.

While Sing had a traditional Sikh upbringing, Jasminder had been educated in the UK and "took little interest in the religious side of Sikhism".

Despite the feud, father and son still share the same house – Tetworth Hall in Cambridgeshire.

Satwant, Singh's wife and mother of Jasminder, also lives there, as well as Jasminder's wife Amrit and their four children.

Singh said in witness statements during the proceedings: "Both I and his mother are deeply ashamed that Jasminder should publicly renounce his cultural heritage and the mutual rights and obligations in which he was brought up." 

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