Not All Lost When Betting Agreement Is Unenforceable

Close v Wilson [2011] EWCA Civ 5

Under an earlier arrangement, set out in a short written agreement, Close had paid £1,000 for the purposes of betting on the promise by Wilson that the £1,000 would in any event be repaid and that any profit would be shared. In due course the £1,000 was repaid with profit. Close later paid the Wilson £20,000 for the purposes of betting, but it was unclear if it was paid on the same basis. No part of the £20,000 was repaid. Close alleged that most of the money had been used for Wilson's personal benefit. The judge found that by virtue of the Gaming Acts 1985 and 1982 the agreement was null and void and could not be sued on. The issues on appeal were whether Close would have a valid claim (i) if the agreement had included a promise for the return of the full £20,000 and/or (ii) if not all the money had been lost on unsuccessful bets, for repayment of the balance.

The Court of Appeal held as follows:-

The contract was not itself a wagering contract within the meaning of the Gambling Act 1835, but the promise to repay the £20,000 fell within the Gaming Act 1892 which rendered null and void any promise to pay any person a sum of money paid in respect of a void agreement under the 1845 Act. Therefore the judge had been right in finding that it did not matter whether the promise to repay had been made or not. In either event...

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