Professional practice

Christopher specialises in commercial and chancery litigation with an emphasis on civil fraud and asset recovery claims. He frequently appears in the High Court (led and unled) in freezing injunction and other interim remedy applications and trials involving allegations of dishonesty or fraud.

Most of his cases have an international element which start in the English courts with applications for injunctive relief and permission to serve foreign defendants. He has acted in some of the largest civil fraud claims in the English courts in recent years, including PrivatBank v Kolomoisky, Vale v Steinmetz, Mezphrom Bank v Pugachev and BTA Bank v Ablyazov.

He is frequently instructed in litigation involving breaches of fiduciary duty and breaches of trust; unfair prejudice and other Companies Act remedies; and corporate and personal insolvency.

 

Education

2006 – 2009 BA History – Merton College, Oxford

2009 – 2010 GDL (Merit) – BPP University College

2010 – 2011 BPTC (Distinction) – BPP University College

Awards

2008 Postmaster of Merton College

2009 The university Gibbs prize for the top first in the year

2009 – 2011 Lord Mansfield, Lord Haldane and Hardwicke scholar of Lincoln’s Inn.

Examples of Recent Cases
  • Nueva ITQ v Organic Grape Spirit Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 999, a challenge to a freezing order in aid of foreign proceedings and in particular whether spending on a new business venture was within the ‘ordinary and proper course of business’;
  • PJSC PrivatBank v Kolomoisky & ors [2019] 2 W.L.R 993 (CA), [2021] EWHC 403 (Ch), a US$1.9 billion fraud claim brought against the former shareholders of one of Ukraine’s largest privately owned banks (on-going);
  • Vale v Steinmetz & ors, a US$1.8 billion claim by a Brazilian mining company alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy in relation to a joint venture to exploit mining licences in the Republic of Guinea (on-going);
  • Nielsen v Baldorino [2019] EWHC 1926 (Comm), a claim brought by the former shareholders of a company alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty by the directors who were involved in a management buy-out;
  • Astor v Atalaya [2019] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 886 (CA), [2021] EWHC 1919 (Comm) a US$48 million contract claim arising from the sale of a copper mine in Spain (on going);
  • Mezhdunarodniy Bank v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 2426 (Ch), (20) ITELR 905 a ‘trust busting’ claim in which the Bank succeeded in its case that discretionary trusts established by a former Russian oligarch were ‘illusory trusts’ or shams (on-going).
Civil fraud & asset recovery
  • Civil fraud claims
  • Freezing injunctions and interim remedies
  • Enforcement of judgments
  • Jurisdiction challenges and conflict of laws
  • Asset recovery claims

Christopher has particular experience in civil fraud and asset recovery claims. His practice encompasses all aspects of fraud claims, from applications for interim relief, trials, and the recognition and enforcement of judgments.

Many of his cases start with applications for (or to set aside) freezing orders and associated interim relief and orders for permission to serve foreign defendants. He acts (led and unled) in trials involving allegations of fraud and dishonesty, including claims governed by foreign law. He is frequently instructed in asset recovery and tracing claims, and claims to enforce judgments.

Recent cases include:

  • Nueva 1TQ v Organic Grape Spirit Limited [2020] EWCA Civ 999. Christopher acted for the applicant at first instance and on appeal in relation to its application for a £12 million freezing order under section 25 CJJA 1982 in aid of proceedings in Spain. The case involved consideration of whether spending by a respondent to a freezing order should be permitted under the ‘ordinary and proper course of business’ exception or under the court’s inherent jurisdiction.
  • PJSC PrivatBank v Kolomoisky & ors. Since late 2017 Christopher has acted as junior counsel for one of the Ukraine’s largest privately owned banks in its US$1.9 billion fraud claim against its former shareholders. The defendants’ challenges to the worldwide freezing order and the English court’s jurisdiction were resolved in the Bank’s favour by the Court of Appeal in 2019 ([2019] 2 W.L.R. 993). The case is listed for a 10-13 week trial in 2022.
  • Vale v Steinmetz & ors.  Christopher acts as junior counsel for a Brazilian mining company in its US$1.8 billion claim alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy in relation to a joint venture to exploit mining licences in the Republic of Guinea. The defendants did not challenge the US$1.8 billion worldwide freezing order or the English court’s jurisdiction. The case is listed for an 8 week trial in 2022.
  • Vald. Nielsen v Baldorino [2019] EWHC 1926 (Comm). Between 2016 and 2020 Christopher acted as counsel for the former shareholders of a company in their claims alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty by the directors who were involved in a management buy-out. The shareholders’ claims succeeded after a seven week commercial court trial.
  • China Metal Recycling v Chun [2020] EWCH 318 (Ch). Christopher acted as English counsel for the Liquidators of China Metal Recycling in relation to their asset recovery proceedings against the daughters of the company’s former chairman, including a Chabra freezing order under section 25 CCJA 1982 and orders for permission to serve the daughters with proceedings out of the jurisdiction.
  • Petrochemical Logistics v PSB Alpha [2020] EWHC 975 (Comm). Christopher acted as counsel for the respondents in their application to set aside freezing orders granted under section 44 of the Arbitration Act 1996 in aid of arbitral proceedings in England and Switzerland.
  • Mezhdunarodniy Bank v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 2426 (Ch), (20) ITELR 905. Christopher acted for the Bank in its a ‘trust busting’ claim to establish that five discretionary trusts purportedly settled by a former Russian oligarch were ‘illusory trusts’ or shams.
Commercial chancery disputes
  • Commercial disputes
  • Joint venture and partnership disputes
  • Breach of fiduciary duties
  • Jurisdiction challenges and conflict of laws
  • Commercial disputes

Christopher’s commercial experience ranges from County Court trials to large-scale multi-jurisdictional litigation. He has particular experience in claims involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty; unfair prejudice and Companies Act remedies; breach of warranty claims; and claims involving allegations of fraud or dishonesty (as set out in the tab above). He has experience of the full range of interim applications associated with commercial litigation, from pre-action disclosure to the enforcement of judgment debts.

Recent experience includes:

  • Astor v Atalaya [2019] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 886 (CA), [2021] EWHC 1919 (Comm). Christopher acts for the claimants in their claim to recover at least US$48 million in deferred consideration following the sale of a copper mine in Spain (on-going).
  • Yukos International v Georgiades [2020] EWHC 396 (Comm). Christopher acted for and advised the defendants, a Cypriot lawyer and former director of the claimant, in relation to a multi-million dollar claims for breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Udeshi v Sieratzki [2021] EWHC EWHC 213 (Ch). Christopher acted for the defendant to claims for breach of fiduciary duty and an account of profits, including the defendant’s application to strike out the claims on limitation grounds.
  • Ardila Investments v ENRC [2015] 2 B.C.L.C. 560. Christopher acted for the defendant in a US$200m claim concerning an iron ore mine in Brazil in which the defendant alleged that licences for the mine had been obtained unlawfully.
  • A claim brought in the BVI under Saudi Arabian law to the ownership of a 50% interest in a Middle Eastern oil lubricants company, together with related unfair prejudice proceedings under the BVI Business Companies Act (2012 – 2014, BVI High Court).
Company law
  • Misfeasance claims
  • Antecedent transactions
  • Claims against office holders
  • Section 236 interviews / applications
  • Companies Act claims
  • Unfair Prejudice proceedings
  • Contested winding up and bankruptcy petitions
  • Administration, liquidation and bankruptcy proceedings

Christopher has particular experience in relation to claims brought by office holders against directors and others. He advises on claims for wrongful trading, preferences, undervalue transactions, illegal dividends and breaches of duty / misfeasance. He has advised in respect of the rights and liabilities of guarantors, landlords and secured creditors. Christopher also has experience advising on professional negligence matters arising from insolvency proceedings.

Christopher appears regularly in the High Court in personal and corporate insolvency proceedings, including applications to restrain presentation of winding up petitions; applications to set aside statutory demands; annulment orders; orders for delivery up; administration orders and other relief.

Recent experience includes:

  • Claims by the former owners and directors of a furniture company for payment of deferred consideration allegedly due under the ‘earn out’ provisions of a Share Purchase Agreement (on-going).
  • Claims by an AIM listed company against its former directors for breaches of fiduciary duty and against third parties to avoid transactions entered into by the directors in breach of duty (including applications for document preservation orders and permission to serve out of the jurisdiction) (on-going).
  • Unfair prejudice proceedings brought in relation to a family-owned company in which the petitioners alleged that the respondents had forged documents. The petitioners valued their shares at c.£40 million (settled).
  • Opus Art v Rochay [2020] EWHC 1737 (Ch). Christopher acted for the applicant in its challenge to the decision of the convenor of a creditors’ meeting to accept a proof of debt which, the applicant contended, was fraudulent.
  •  Re MARC Group (2018-2019). Christopher acted for the owner of a number of well-known Michelin starred restaurants in London in his efforts to save the companies from insolvency.
  • Advising on the interpretation and application of CVAs.
  • Re Wykeham Club Limited (unreported). Christopher acted for the administrators of a Conservative Club in their application for guidance as to the distribution of the Club’s surplus assets.
  • Mawer v Moore [2018] (settled). Christopher acted for the wife in defending claims by her former husband’s trustee in bankruptcy to set aside an ancillary relief order on the grounds that the husband fraudulently failed to disclose his liabilities to the family court (with Raquel Agnello QC).
  • Mezdhunarodniy Bank v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 2424 (Ch). Christopher acted for the Bank in its a ‘trust busting’ claim to establish that five discretionary trusts purportedly settled by a former Russian oligarch were ‘illusory trusts’, shams, or transactions contrary to section 423.
  • Grant v Ralls [2016] B.C.C. 296. Christopher acted as junior counsel for the defendants in this £1.2 million claim for wrongful trading (with Christopher Boardman).
Conflict of laws & private international law
  • Jurisdiction challenges
  • Claims under foreign law
  • Enforcement of foreign judgments
  • Letters of request

Most of Christopher’s cases involve foreign parties and claims under foreign law. He has recent experience of applications to challenge jurisdiction, alternative service on defendants outside the jurisdiction, and applications to enforce foreign judgments in England. He has acted in claims governed by (variously) the laws of Bermuda, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, New York, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Recent cases include:

  • PJSC PrivatBank v Kolomoisky & ors [2019] 2 WLR 993 (CA) Christopher acted as junior counsel for the claimant in successfully resisting the defendants’ challenges to the worldwide freezing order and the English court’s jurisdiction under Article 6(1) of the Lugano Convention and on lis alibi pendens grounds under the Recast Brussels Regulation.
  • Petrochemical Logistics v PSB Alpha [2020] EWHC 975 (Comm). Christopher acted as counsel for the respondents in their application to set aside freezing orders granted under section 44 of the Arbitration Act 1996 in aid of arbitral proceedings in England and Switzerland on the basis there was insufficient jurisdictional connection to England to justify the orders.
  • China Metal Recycling v Chun [2020] EWCH 318 (Ch). Christopher acted as English counsel for the Liquidators of China Metal Recycling in relation to their asset recovery proceedings against the daughters of the company’s former chairman, including a Chabra freezing order under section 25 CCJA 1982 and orders for permission to serve the daughters with proceedings out of the jurisdiction.
Trusts Disputes
  • Breach of trust claims
  • Constructive and resulting trusts
  • Tracing and asset recovery
  • Removal of trustees
  • Injunctions against trustees

Christopher has been instructed in a variety of trusts disputes, in England and commonwealth jurisdictions, including breach of trust claims and applications to remove trustees. He also has experience advising on the trust law elements of commercial disputes, particularly on constructive and resulting trusts, following and tracing, and other equitable remedies.

Recent experience includes:

  • Volpi v Delanson (2019-2020, Bermuda HC & CA). Claims for breach of trust in relation to the purported transfer and re-settlement of assets held in offshore trusts, including issues of governing law; the arbitrability of trusts disputes; and the availability of injunctive relief.
  • Mezdhunarodniy Bank v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 2426 (Ch), (20) ITELR 905. Christopher acted for the Bank in its a ‘trust busting’ claim to establish that five discretionary trusts purportedly settled by a former Russian oligarch were ‘illusory trusts’ or shams.
  • Advising in relation to offshore settlements which excluded illegitimate issue of the settlor, including advice as to variation or amendment of the trust instruments.
  • Claims arising from the operation of joint bank accounts in which it is alleged the husband unlawfully removed his wife from the accounts and transferred the money for his own benefit.
Career

Christopher was called to the Bar in 2011.

He is a member of COMBAR, the Chancery Bar Association, ConTra and the Junior Fraud Lawyers Association.