The truce of the billionaire Hinduja family was called into question by a London court after lawyers for the patriarch Srichand said the dispute between Gopichand Hinduja and his niece continued.
The Hindus had agreed last year to put the brakes on copious lawsuits across Europe and suspend a feud that was tearing apart the once tight-knit British-Indian group. But on Monday, a judge was told the family was still negotiating the governance and succession planning of the business empire some 10 months later.
“At the time it was presented as a treaty and the war was over,” Judge Anthony Hayden said. “There was cheering and singing. It is perhaps not surprising that it turned out to be less than a treaty.”
In the past, the four brothers, who have a combined net worth of about $14 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, have always presented a united front. But the family appeared to be deeply divided after the details of the legal proceedings came to light.
SP, as the 87-year-old is known, suffers from dementia, and the court was told that at one point the family feud went so deep that he was days away from being transferred to a state-run National Health Service hospital.
The feud revolves around a pact signed in 2014 by the four Hinduja brothers that “everything belongs to everyone and nothing belongs to anyone”. Gopichand, 83, had first claimed that the letter, signed by the brothers, regulated succession planning for the conglomerate, but in June agreed to effectively tear it up, saying it was no longer legally enforceable against his elder brother .
Even as the family continues to negotiate a broader settlement, Srichand’s daughters, Vinoo and Gopichand, have yet to resolve a dispute over what happened to the 2014 letter and how it may have been used, according to Nikki Singla, a lawyer who represents Srichand’s interests.
“There are so many assets in so many different jurisdictions” and “there was never any clear thought about any sort of split if this were to happen,” Ms Singla said on Monday.
Spokesmen for Gopichand and Vinoo did not immediately comment.