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Eden's Ball 'quits' after court defeat

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Jonathan Ball, the beleaguered architect at the centre of a dispute with Cornwall's Eden Project, is to leave architecture and pursue a career in 'making things happen'. He is also planning to write a book about the £80 million initiative.

Last week Ball lost a High Court battle with Eden Project Limited and was instructed to hand his claim to intellectual copyright over to the company within 21 days. Ball now faces a legal bill of £27,500 and unemployment - he handed his practice, the Jonathan Ball Partnership, over to senior partner Neil Tibbitts in January (AJ 18.1.01).

'My life is in suspension. I have been shafted, ' said Ball, who is now contemplating a career in project management. 'I believe my skills lie in enabling, in making things happen.'

Hearing the case on 9 April, Justice Laddie said that Ball was in breach of his 'fiduciary duties' by registering The Eden Project as a trademark under his own name while officially a director of the company. He ruled that this would allow Ball to hold the company to ransom.

Ball admits he has 'taken a pounding' but remains bullish: 'I took all the risks. Had the project failed I would have lost a phenomenal amount of money - let alone three years of my life. But it didn't fail. It is a world-class success, so it is my legitimate expectation that I share in its success, ' said Ball. '[The verdict] might be correct as a point of law, but it's not right in equity. I was a director in name only because they refused to give me a job and refused to give me any remuneration.'

The case centres on events four years ago. Ball and co-founder Tim Smit had been working on the project since 1994, but established a formal company in June 1997. Ball alleges that Smit was given preferential treatment by the company and registered the trademark in an effort to compensate himself for the time and money he had contributed to the project - 4,000 hours and £97,000. He estimates that he is owed about £250,000. Another case in February will put a figure on what he is owed.

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