London: Indian Hotels Company Limited, owners of the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai on Friday expressed "disappointment" over the UK High Court`s decision to allow a compensation claim to be heard in Britain, saying it was a "purely procedural" decision.
London-based Will Pike, who had been paralysed during a terror attack on the Tata Group`s hotel in 2008, was granted permission to file his negligence case against the hotel in Britain in a ruling at the Royal Courts of Justice here yesterday.
"The acceptance of jurisdiction by the English court was made without any detailed consideration of the merits of the claim; it was a purely procedural decision.
This great Indian tragedy in which many staff and guests were killed or injured was not the fault of the hotel owners and management and the claim will continue to be vigorously defended," the Tata Group firm said in a statement.
"Many of our brave staff will give evidence at the trial. We do not consider it appropriate to make any further comment at this time," it added.
The company also pointed to the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust Fund, set upto offer relief for those affected by the attack on November 26, 2008 and to provide immediate assistance to all victims and their families.
"William Pike has already been the beneficiary from this trust. This trust fund has been further extended to cover relief to victims of sudden acts of violence, natural disasters and other tragic events that inflict damage to life and property," the company said.
In the ruling yesterday, the judge had accepted wheelchair-bound Pike`s assertion that taking his case through the Indian courts could run into years of delay.
The Indian Hotels Company Limited`s legal team had challenged the assertion that 33-year-old Pike`s case should be heard by the High Court in London, where he lives.
They been given the right to appeal against the ruling and the case is now expected to go to the Court of Appeal for a final decision.
Pike was seriously injured after he jumped out of a window of the hotel when it was stormed by some of the 10 Lashkar-e-Toiba militants who carried out the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. The attacks killed 166 people and left hundreds injured.