Brixton cafe owner Anthony Bailey has lost his High Court fight to be recognised as the creator of the recipe for the sauce made famous by Dragons’ Den contestant Roots.
Bailey had claimed that Roots had derived the sauce from his “unique and secret recipe”.
However, Judge Mark Pelling QC dismissed Bailey’s claims for breach of contract and breach of confidence.
The judge said Bailey’s recipe was “riddled with imprecision”. He said: “There is nothing special either about the ingredients or the methodology of making them into a sauce.”
Judge Pelling questioned whether the recipe was “ever secret”.
“This was not merely a claim which fails because it was misconceived,” said the judge. “Rather it was a claim which was advanced in circumstances where, to the knowledge of the defendants, they had no proper basis for advancing it.
He told the court: “This was a dishonest claim, dishonestly advanced.”
Bailey, who moved to England from Jamaica and runs the Blessed West Indian Takeaway in Brixton, south London, had made the claim alongside financial adviser Sylvester Williams.
Bailey told the court that he had “devised his own jerk sauce” and recorded his recipe in the West Indies more than 25 years ago.
However, Roots, 53, who also lives in Brixton and was born in Jamaica, contested the claims, which he said were a “cynical and dishonest attempt to take advantage of his ingenuity and hard work”.
He said he “started experimenting” with sauce recipes in 2005 and invented the “Reggae Reggae” title either later that year or in early 2006.
Lawyers said they estimated the legal battle had cost more than £1m in total and the judge said Roots was entitled to have his costs paid.
Although the judge ruled in Roots’s favour, he told the court he had concluded he “could not safely rely” on either the evidence of claimants or that of Roots.
In his ruling, Judge Pelling said: “Mr Roots accepted that… the suggestion contained in literature prepared in connection with the product that the product was based on his grandmother’s recipe was untrue.
“Mr Roots attempted to explain these untruths away as ‘marketing’. Whilst the process will usually involve maximising what can legitimately be said in respect of the product or service concerned, it does not involve what can properly, if legalistically, be called fraudulent misrepresentations