Hinduja brothers mired in legal dispute over letter on division of family assets

The Hinduja brothers: (seated) Srichand; (standing, from left) Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok
The Hinduja brothers: (seated) Srichand; (standing, from left) Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok

THE Hinduja brothers are locked in a legal dispute over their multi-billion family assets, it has emerged during a court ruling in London.

The high court case — regarding the “validity and effect” of a letter dated July 2, 2014 — was filed on behalf of “patriarch” Srichand Parmanand Hinduja, 84, against his brothers Gopichand P Hinduja, 80, Prakash P Hinduja, 75, and Ashok P Hinduja, 69.

The letter had included statements to the effect that the brothers appoint each other as their executors, and that assets held in any single brother’s name belong to all four.

“In summary, SP seeks a declaration that neither document has legal effect, whether as a will, power of attorney, declaration of trust or other binding document, or alternatively that the documents are revocable and have been revoked,” Justice Sarah Falk noted in her judgment on Tuesday (23).

“Additional relief is also sought, in particular an injunction restraining use of the documents and an account of the persons to whom the documents have been submitted and steps taken in reliance on them.”

Presiding over a private hearing in the Chancery Division of the High Court, Justice Falk also partially ruled against a privacy order in the case and agreed for SP Hinduja’s daughter, Vinoo, to act on her father’s behalf due to his ill health as a result of a form of dementia.

“I have concluded that the court should exercise its power under CPR 21.6 to appoint Vinoo as SP’s litigation friend… There is no evidence to indicate that Vinoo’s statement that her father has asked her to act for him in the proceedings because he is unable to do so is anything other than accurate,” the ruling noted.

The High Court judgment made references to the family’s other legal proceedings, including over Hinduja Bank in Switzerland and confidential proceedings in Jersey.

It also noted that the three defending brothers contended that they had been prevented from seeing their eldest brother for some time.

“It will be apparent from the judgment of the High Court in England, that Mr SP Hinduja’s health has been deteriorating for a number of years suffering from Lewy Body disease, which is a form of dementia. Vinoo, his younger daughter, acting as his Litigation Friend is bringing these proceedings on his behalf,” said a joint statement by the younger brothers.

“It is very unfortunate that these proceedings are taking place as they go against our founder’s and family’s, values and principles that have stood for many decades, especially, ‘everything belongs to everyone and nothing belongs to anyone’. We intend to defend the claim to uphold these dearly held family values.”

Referring to the issue as “private family matters” now subject to litigation, they added: “We would also stress that this litigation will not have any impact on our global businesses, which will continue to function as they have been.”

The Hinduja brothers, who run the Hinduja Group of companies, had topped the Asian Rich List last year, with an estimated wealth of £23.1 billion.

Their business conglomerate, based in Mumbai and headquartered in London, covers a wide range of sectors including automotive, hospitality, banking and healthcare.