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Dauriac v Caudwell courtroom drama ends

Dauriac v Caudwell courtroom drama ends

The bitter two-week court battle between Signia co-founder and former chief executive officer Nathalie Dauriac's and Phones 4U founder John Caudwell has ended. 

The pair remained firmly at loggerheads in the final day of the dispute, with Dauriac's defence claiming the interpretation of the company's expenses policy should be viewed in the wider context of the wealth management industry. 

On the last day, lawyers focused on the valuation of her shares and the question of her expenses. 

Monica Carss-Frisk QC, representing Signia, stated that Dauriac's 'behaviour and comments in evidence showed that she in truth viewed company money as her own'.

She continued: 'Her [Dauriac] repeated references to Signia being her “baby” and “my company” provided a clear insight into this wrongful attitude and belief.'

However, in its closing submission, Dauriac’s defence claimed that pursuant to her service agreement, she was entitled to be reimbursed by Signia for her expenses, noting they were described in testimony as vague with no limits imposed and having no prescriptive rules.

The defence also highlighted Dauriac's interpretation of Signia’s expenses policy as something that ‘must be understood in the context of the private wealth management industry generally and Ms Dauriac’s role as CEO of Signia in particular'.

Carss-Frisk also accused the Signia co-founder and former chief executive of having given 'evidence [that] was unreliable in the extreme’ and told ‘a series of deliberate lies'.

In addition, she said Caudwell had no recollection of demanding Dauriac to take a polygraph, a claim that she had previously made. 

However, barrister Thomas Plewman QC, acting for Dauriac told the judge in a written case summary that Caudwell’s evidence during cross-examination on this point was not clear.  

He added: 'He [Caudwell] first said that “at the point that this lie detector test was suggested, I was already a long way down the line of starting to understand the theft and fraud that Ms Dauriac had committed”—words which on their natural meaning conveyed that Mr Caudwell had indeed requested that Ms Dauriac take a lie detector test.'

Carss-Frisk, on the other hand, claimed Caudwell 'did not need to demonstrate that Ms Dauriac had lied as it was obvious that she had'.

Plewman, in court, questioned whether Caudwell was a 'bully' instead of 'the benevolent philanthropist' he liked to portray himself as.

The case started after Signia accused Dauriac of reporting more than £33,000 in personal expenses as business costs before she left the firm, which she launched with Caudwell in 2009.

Dauriac (pictured) denies the allegation and counter-claimed that she was forced from the business after having £10 million of equity expropriated.

Other allegations made throughout the trial include Dauriac claiming she was 'scared' of Caudwell, that he had become 'completely irrational' and 'increasingly hostile' toward her and her husband.

In her witness statement, Dauriac alleged Caudwell asked her as a ‘last-minute condition of jointly setting up the business’ to ‘give an undertaking to him' not to have any further children, a demand she refused to consent to.

Caudwell told the court: ‘Dauriac is the most amazing liar I’ve ever met in my life ... She’s Machiavellian and the vast majority of everything she says is a complete fabrication.’

He also claimed he 'loved' her but she oversaw a ‘reign of terror’ while running Signia and added former staff members claimed she threatened to ruin the standings of those who disagreed with her with allegations of 'illicit sex' and drug use.

With the trial now over, Justice Marcus Smith reserved his judgement and his ruling is expected within the next three months. 

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