JNF settles £700,000 Sherling dispute

JNF UK has reached a last-minute deal with a former board member it had sued in the High Court for nearly £700,000.

The charity claimed that Irish businessman Maurice - usually known as Charlie - Sherling owed the money, to cover legal fees the JNF had incurred in its previous conflict with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL).

But lawyers for the JNF and Mr Sherling managed to thrash out an agreement shortly before Mr Justice Mann took the bench at the start of a scheduled five-day hearing on Tuesday.

In a statement read out in court, they said: "JNF and Charlie Sherling are happy to announce the amicable settlement of the dispute between them relating to the funding of previous litigation.

"The terms of the settlement are confidential to the parties and the parties will make no further comment on it."

Mr Sherling, who resigned from the JNF board last year, is managing director of Sherling Steel, Ireland's largest independently owned steel supplier. According to papers filed in court last year, he paid £597,095 towards JNF's costs in the battle with KKL. But any arrangement with JNF to cover the cost of proceedings in England was "on a purely voluntary basis", his laywers said.

JNF, however, claimed that Mr Sherling had made a binding agreement to contribute to its lawsuit against KKL and owed a further £697,417 plus interest.

The dispute between JNF UK and KKL broke out in late 2005 after the Israeli organisation threatened to launch a separate fundraising operation in the UK because it was receiving too little money from JNF.

JNF then launched a legal action in an attempt to stop KKL using the names JNF or "Jewish National Fund" in the UK.

The two organisations ran up an estimated £4 million of costs between them before making peace after the Israeli-born businessman Samuel Hayek took over as JNF UK chairman two years ago.

    Last updated: 5:42pm, November 3 2010