London - A divorcee who sued an elite dating agency after failing to find a new partner has won £13 000 (about R250 000) in damages.
Tereza Burki approached Seventy Thirty in pursuit of "the man of her dreams", the British High Court heard.
The 47-year-old businesswoman said the agency assured her it could introduce her to "creme de la creme" matches.
She asked it to help her find a wealthy boyfriend who was open to having a child.
But after she failed to find love, she sued the London-based agency for deceit and misrepresentation – and sought damages for distress and the return of her £12 600 membership fee.
In return, the dating agency sued Burki for libel and malicious falsehood over two reviews she had posted online.
Judge Richard Parkes ruled Burki had been given a false representation by the agency’s then-managing director Lemarc Thomas and ordered that it return her fee and give her £500 for the "disappointment and sadness" she had suffered.
He said: "This case is about a woman looking for romantic happiness who says she was tricked into shopping in the wrong place."
Burki, from Chelsea, first approached Seventy Thirty – which describes itself as an "exclusive matchmaking and elite introduction service" – in 2013. She said she wanted a "sophisticated gentleman", ideally employed in the finance industry, who led a "wealthy lifestyle". Most importantly, the mother of three said any matches must be open to having children.
Judge Parkes said Thomas claimed there was a "substantial" number of active wealthy male members who were a sufficient match for her requirements, "which were not modest".
But this was "false and misleading", as of all its members, only about 100 were men actively looking for love. He said this "cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as a substantial number".
The judge said Thomas had knowingly given her a "wholly false impression", but added he had not found that Seventy Thirty was a ‘fundamentally dishonest or fraudulent operation’.