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Former Pendragon director 'staggered' by comments on legal settlement

Former Pendragon director James Brearley branded a statement issued by his former employer in relation to legal proceedings against him as “staggering” as a costs settlement was heard in court today.

In a statement issued late yesterday Pendragon said that it “confirmed the successful conclusion of its High Court claim” and the award of its costs against former employees James Brearley, Steve Venables and their new business JRB Automotive Ltd.

But Brearley – now chief executive of Inchcape Retail in the UK – said that he was "staggered" that Pendragon would choose to issue a statement “while a court was carrying out a cost assessment and before the conclusion of that process”.

He added: "For absolute clarity Pendragon never recieved judgement in the High Court about their concerns because they chose to settle the case in early 2016 prior to it being heard by any judge."

Brearley revealed to AM that the matter had been settled for a sum of £125 and payment of Pendragon’s “reasonable” legal costs.

He added that he would be happy to clarify the exact position in relation to his and Pendragon's actual costs in due course, once the proceedings related to legal costs were concluded.

A Pendragon employee of 24 years and former managing director of the group’s Stratstone premium division and Chatfield's Trucks, Brearley resigned his position as a director of Pendragon motor group in August 2015.

He formed a new business, JRB Automotive, and drew-up plans for a £14 million Arch Concept Jaguar Land Rover dealership in Wolverhampton.

Those plans were set aside, however, after Pendragon begun leading proceedings against Brearley, Venables and JRB Automotive.

Pendragon said in its statement issued yesterday that Brearley and Venables had held trusted management positions within its organisation and that formal legal proceedings had been necessary to protect its “legitimate commercial interests and prevent significant commercial damage being caused".

Pendragon said it begun the process “because of concerns that during the course of their employment with Pendragon and their access to privileged information they had breached a number of covenants and fiduciary duties”, adding: “They were also intending to disregard their post termination restrictions.” 

Pendragon said that its action was settled by all three defendants when they undertook to the High Court to be bound by a number of separate undertakings, some expiring in August 2019, some in May 2025 with some “unlimited in time”. 

All of the Defendants’ undertakings are supported by formal Penal Notices, it said, adding that, in addition, Pendragon “was awarded its costs of the case”.

Brearley highlighted, however, that costs were due to be determined in a hearing today.

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