Professional practice

Legal 500 Leading Junior

Tim Akkouh KC is a commercial litigator with a strong reputation for civil fraud and asset recovery. This year’s Chambers & Partners describes him as having “a brilliant strategic mind which homes in on the key levers in a case like a hawk”, and as being “a seriously impressive barrister” whose “energy is boundless and who is a pleasure to work with.”

Tim has acted in some of the largest actions to come before the courts, including JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov, Pinchuk v Bogolyubov, Mezhprom v Pugachev, Republic of Djibouti v Boreh, Chernukhin v Deripaska and ENRC v Dechert/SFO.

Tim is particularly experienced in applications for pre-emptive and interlocutory relief, including freezing, search, receivership, committal and Norwich Pharmacal orders. He also maintains a commercial chancery practice, with an emphasis on contract, insolvency, company and trusts disputes.

Tim regularly appears in the Chancery Division and Commercial Court. He has appeared in the Court of Appeal on 16 occasions and twice in the Supreme Court. Fifteen of Tim’s cases have been reported in the WLRs.

Before taking silk, Tim was ranked as the only ‘star’ junior in Chambers & Partners’ civil fraud category. He was also ranked as a Tier 1 junior in the directories’ Commercial Dispute Resolution and Commercial Chancery categories. In October 2015, Tim was named Chancery Junior of the Year by Chambers & Partners. He was also a nominee for Legal 500’s 2018 Commercial Junior of the Year award.

In 2022/23, Tim achieved silk rankings in the fields of Civil Fraud, Commercial Chancery, Commercial Dispute Resolution and Cryptoassets.

 

What Others Say

Chambers & Partners 2022, Chancery: Commercial

  • “Has a very calm, almost understated manner and is absolutely on top of everything.”
  • “Tim is incredibly effective, very experienced and very thoughtful. He gets into the details but also gets the bigger picture.”

Chambers & Partners 2022, Fraud: Civil

  • “He is extremely bright, hard-working and user-friendly.”
  • “He has exceptional legal knowledge and is a great draftsman and tactician. He’s a pleasure to work with.”

Chambers & Partners 2022, Commercial Dispute Resolution

  • “First rate.”
  • ” He has sound judgement and is easy to get on with.”

The Legal 2022, Commercial Litigation

  • “Hugely experienced with great insight and judgement.”

The Legal 2022, Fraud: Civil

  • “Very approachable, highly responsive – absolutely at the top of the field for civil fraud matters.”

The Legal 2021, Commercial Litigation

  • “Extremely bright, has an excellent working knowledge of the law and is one of the most commercially-minded barristers I have worked with.”

The Legal 500 2021, Fraud: Civil

  • “Tim drafts beautifully, is an excellent team player and really grasps what the client’s priorities are.”

Chambers & Partners 2019, Chancery: Commercial

  • “Absolutely first-rate, very easy to deal with, very conscientious and someone whose written work is fantastic. He is very confident, he presents very well and he doesn’t take unnecessary or minor points.”
  • “The perfect junior – he’s completely unflappable, furiously hard-working, he knows the law inside-out, and he is incredibly good-natured.”

Chambers & Partners 2019, Fraud: Civil

  • “Very responsive and very intelligent.”
  • “Very bright and very good on his feet.”
  • “Incredibly creative.”

Chambers & Partners 2019, Commercial Dispute Resolution

  • “He has a very good sense of what will play well in court, his drafting is incredibly good, and his turnaround time is excellent.”
  • “Outstanding – he has a first-rate brain and he works extremely hard.”

The Legal 500 2019, Commercial Litigation

  • ‘Has a fantastically creative mind and isn’t afraid to pursue difficult arguments.’

The Legal 500 2019, Company & Partnership

  • Incredibly user friendly, exceptionally bright and very astute.’’

The Legal 2019, Fraud: Civil

  • ‘Has a wealth of experience, particularly on the enforcement of freezing and disclosure orders.’
Civil fraud & asset recovery

Tim has acted in many of the largest civil fraud cases of the past decade, including JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov, Privatbank v Kolomoisky, Mezhprom v Pugachev, Bank of Moscow v Chernyakov, Djibouti v Boreh, FM Capital Partners, Ramilos, Kazakhstan Kagazy, the Orb litigation, PIFSS v Al-Rajaan and ENRC v Dechert/SFO.

Tim has particular expertise in obtaining injunctive relief, in particular freezing orders, receivership orders, search orders, Norwich Pharmacal and Bankers Trust disclosure orders, and committal orders.

When governed by English law, Tim’s cases frequently include allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of trust, dishonest assistance/knowing receipt, deceit, conspiracy and other intentional wrongdoing (eg inducing breach of contract and misfeasance in public office).  Tim is also experienced in dealing with claims governed by foreign laws, for example those of Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia.

Tim regularly advises on jurisdictional and other procedural matters that arise in civil fraud litigation (eg security for costs, Model E disclosure, third party disclosure, challenges to redactions).

Legal 500 describes Tim as follows:

“Any instructing solicitor’s dream: creative, incredibly user-friendly, with unparalleled command of the law on freezing orders.”

Tim has more than 50 reported cases in the areas of civil fraud and asset recovery. They include:

  • Privatbank v Kolomoisky [2022] EWHC 1445 (Ch): order forcing a respondent to a freezing order to take steps to protect a $1bn asset.
  • ENRC v Dechert/SFO [2022] EWHC 1138 (Comm): findings after a 10-week trial that a city solicitor had recklessly breached his contractual and fiduciary duties and that the SFO induced those breaches.
  • JSC BTA Bank v Khrapunov [2018] UKSC 19: breach of a court order can constitute unlawful means for the purposes of the conspiracy tort.
  • Mezhprom v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 2426 (Ch): first English authority holding that the terms of a purported discretionary trust were illusory (and so did not divest the settlor of beneficial ownership of purported trust assets).
  • JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov [2015] UKSC 64: first Supreme Court case to provide guidance on the meaning of the current version of the standard form freezing order.
  • JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov [2013] 1 WLR 1331 (CA): 22-month committal order imposed for breach of a freezing order.
Commercial dispute resolution

Tim’s commercial litigation practice focuses on contractual, joint venture, partnership and shareholder disputes.

A number of Tim’s commercial litigation cases are listed above. Others include Pinchuk v Bogolyubov (dispute between Ukrainian oligarchs regarding ownership of an iron ore mine), Ardila v ENRC (claim under share purchase agreement defended on the basis of corrupt conduct), and confidential LCIA arbitrations.

Tim also has experience of:

  • Conflicts of law issues arising in commercial litigation.
  • LCIA arbitrations and appeals against arbitration decisions under the Arbitration Act 1996.
  • Claims for enforcement of judgments.
  • Applications for interim and final injunctions (including specific performance) in support of commercial claims.
  • Procedural applications, including for interim payments, summary judgment/strike out, unless orders (see [2017] EWHC 1847 (Ch)), security for costs, stay of proceedings, anti-suit injunctions (see [2015] 2 B.C.L.C. 560), and applications for the preservation of material and for specific and enhanced (Puruvian Guano) disclosure (see [2015] EWHC 3761 (Comm)).

Chambers & Partners describes Tim as follows in this area:

“Hugely experienced with great insight and judgement.”

“He is a seriously impressive barrister.”

Commercial chancery disputes

Tim maintains a broad commercial chancery practice, with a focus on contractual, trusts, insolvency and company disputes. He was named as Chancery Junior of the Year by Chambers & Partners in 2015.

Tim is regularly instructed in breach of contract matters, particularly where dishonest or fraudulent conduct is alleged. He has recently acted for a claimant in a contractual dispute concerning an offshore software development centre.

Tim also has considerable experience of contentious insolvency and company law matters, which frequently arise in a civil fraud context. For example, he has acted on s.236 interviews/applications, unfair prejudice petitions, misfeasance and wrongful trading claims, undervalue/preference/s. 423 claims, applications for the appointment of administrators, and disputed debt, directors’ disqualification and public interest winding-up proceedings.

Here, his reported decisions include:

  • Charity Commission v Thrift [2019] EWHC 1403 (Ch) (first public interest winding up petition brought by the Charity Commission)
  • Mezhprom v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 1761, 1767, 1847, 1853, 1936, 1972 (Ch) (transactions defrauding creditors)
  • JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov [2016] 3071 (Comm) and [2019] B.C.C. 96 (CA) (transactions defrauding creditors)
  • Ardila v ENRC [2015] 2 B.C.L.C. 560 (security for costs against insolvent company)
  • Re: Commonwealth Institute [2014] W.T.L.R. 1621 (application by administrators for directions)
  • JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov [2014] 1 BCLC 407 (appointment of litigation receivers)
  • Halabi v London Borough of Camden (The Times, 25 March 2008) (annulment of bankruptcy orders)
  • Gotham v Doodes [2007] 1 WLR 86 (CA) (limitation periods under the Insolvency Act 1986)

Tim is equally at home in dealing with contentious trusts and estates disputes, addressed in more detail below.

Chambers & Partners describes Tim as follows:

“Tim is incredibly effective, very experienced and very thoughtful. He gets into the details but also gets the bigger picture.”

Trusts and Estates Disputes

Tim is equally at home in dealing with contentious trusts and estates disputes, both for trustees and beneficiaries.

He has acted or advised in a number of important cases in these fields, including:

  • The Alhamrani trusts litigation in Jersey, where Tim acted for one of the defendant trustees.
  • The Wingate trusts litigation in Bermuda, where Tim obtained disclosure orders against trustees on behalf of beneficiaries ([2008] WTLR 357; [2008] WTLR 543).
  • Mezhprom v Pugachev [2015] W.T.L.R. 1759 (CA), where Tim obtained without notice freezing relief against trustees.
  • Charity Commission v Framjee [2015] 1 WLR 16, which concerned the existence of a trust and the sharing of losses between innocent beneficiaries.
  • Mezhprom v Pugachev [2017] 20 I.T.E.L.R. 905, where Tim successfully challenged the validity of six New Zealand discretionary trusts on the basis that they were shams/illusory trusts.
  • SFO v Litigation Capital Limited [2021] EWHC 1272 (Comm), where Tim acted for six claimants who were successful in establishing equitable interests in assets including English and Jersey real estate, company shares, jewellery, cash and a collection of fine wine.
  • SFO v Hotel Portfolio II UK Ltd [2021] EWHC 1273 (Comm), which assesses the limits of the law on backwards tracing.
  • Morina v Scherbakova, a high value probate dispute in the English Chancery Division concerning the validity of a will (sought to be proved in solemn form) and the true beneficial ownership of shares in a BVI company.

Tim was Chancery Junior of the Year in 2015, and is the co-author of Trusts Law (Palgrave Macmillan, 5th ed).

Chambers & Partners describes Tim as follows:

“Tim is incredibly effective, very experienced and very thoughtful. He gets into the details but also gets the bigger picture.”

Crypto & other specialist areas

Tim often advises on Crypto and digital asset disputes, and is one of only four silks to be ranked in this subject area by Chambers & Partners. They say:

“Tim is one of the most effective counsel I have worked with. He has a brilliant strategic mind and homes in on the key levers in a case like a hawk. His energy is boundless and he is a pleasure to work with.”

Tim’s other specialist areas include:

  • Civil recovery proceedings under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, having worked in this area for the NCA and SFO prior to taking silk.
  • Contentious charity proceedings, having regularly advised and appeared for the Charity Commission prior to taking silk.
  • Art law, Tim having advised on one of the highest value art disputes of the past decade (he also has a personal interest in impressionism).
  • Web disputes, Tim having recently acted for a claimant seeking unpaid fees for web design work carried out at an offshore software development centre (he also runs a number of blogs in his spare time).
Career

Tim was called to the bar in 2004.

Tim is a co-author of Trusts Law (5th ed, Palgrave Macmillan) and regularly writes on civil fraud topics – including “Trust Busting” (2018) Trusts & Trustees 151, “How to Freeze Cryptocurrency” (2020) JIBFL 101 and “Sinking the Siskina” (2022) JIBFL 102.

Before taking silk, Tim was a member of the Attorney General’s A Panel of Counsel to the Crown and complemented his civil fraud practice by acting for the National Crime Agency and SFO on cases under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Tim regularly gives talks on civil fraud issues, most recently on freezing orders (including “How to Freeze a Bitcoin”) and contempt.

Education
  • 1998-2001: LLB (Lond, LSE), 1st class;
  • 2002: LLM (Lond, UCL)