IN a case sure to be closely monitored by the bookmaking industry, Victor Chandler International is challenging the jurisdiction of a British court to decide on a betting dispute because the company is registered in Gibraltar.
The firm's stance came to light after Paul Morris, an independent financial adviser from Sheffield, who is claiming winnings no a horse that finished second but was promoted to first at a later inquiry, initiated legal proceedings.
In an acknowledgment received from Sheffield County Court, Morris was informed: ''The defendant responded to the claim indicating an intention to contest the court's jurisdiction.''
A judge will have to rule on the validity of Chandler's defence and, if the case is thrown out, it could open the way to a punter deciding to test if the legislation that makes gambling debts recoverable by law is enforceable when betting with a business registered offshore.
Morris said: ''Victor Chandler are saying they don't think the court has any jurisdiction over them, and therefore can't impose any sanction upon them. That has got to be a huge concern for all punters. If they are successful, every bookie that is registered offshore is going to try to claim they are beyond UK law.
''I find it interesting that Chandler are using this defence to try to keep this out of the legal arena, but although I am only claiming £3,375, it is a test case because if I win, it will pave the way for similar claims against the company.''
Betting online with Victor Chandler, Morris staked £1,500 on Mourad to win at Punchestown on December 31 last year. The horse finished second to Jumbo Rio, a result confirmed after a stewards' inquiry, but at a Turf Club hearing the following month the places were reversed.
Although an IBAS adjudication found in favour of Victor Chandler, Morris is continuing his battle on the basis of the company's terms and conditions at the time. Victor Chandler had no comment to make yesterday.
From BBC Sport