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(SKY NEWS) – A woman who signed up to an elite dating agency to find a “sophisticated gentleman” has won damages of more than £13,000 after suing them for deceit and misrepresentation.
Divorcee Tereze Burki, 47, first approached Seventy Thirty in 2013 as she embarked on a search for a new partner.
She specified that she ideally wanted to be matched with someone employed in the finance industry, and it was important that he should lead a “wealthy lifestyle” and be “open to travelling internationally”.
The most important thing for the mother-of-three was a willingness to have more children as she had always wanted four.
“Her requirements were not modest,” said Judge Richard Parkes at the High Court in London.
Ms Burki, who lives in Chelsea, was encouraged by what she found out about Seventy Thirty, which describes itself as an “exclusive matchmaking and elite introduction service”, and eventually went ahead at a cost of £12,600.
However, when the agency was unable to fulfil her requirements Ms Burki sought the return of her membership fee and damages for distress, while the agency sued her for libel and malicious falsehood in connection with two online reviews of its service.
Ms Burki gave evidence that she was very frustrated and in a state of emotional turmoil because she was so disappointed with the service she received, in part because she was “running out of time” to have more children.
In his ruling, Judge Parkes awarded Ms Burki £12,600 in damages for deceit and £500 for distress.
He awarded Seventy Thirty £5,000 for libel relating to an April 2016 Google review but otherwise dismissed the claims for libel and malicious falsehood.
He said the agency’s then-managing director, Lemarc Thomas, represented that there was a substantial number of wealthy male members actively engaged in its matchmaking services who were a sufficient match for Ms Burki’s criteria.
This was false and misleading, said the judge, as there were around 100 active male members, which could not “by any stretch of the imagination” be described as a substantial number, even without considering how far that number would have to be reduced to allow for compliance with the criteria.
“Had Ms Burki known what the true size of the active membership was, she would not have joined Seventy Thirty.”
Judge Parkes said: “Gertrude Stein quipped that whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop.
“This case is about a woman looking for romantic happiness who says she was tricked into shopping in the wrong place, paying a large sum to a dating agency which, she says, made promises but failed to produce the goods.”
Ruling on Seventy Thirty’s claim, he said he had not found that the business was a fundamentally dishonest or fraudulent operation, although at the time it probably had a short supply of suitable men.