Jurisdiction challenges upheld by Court of Appeal in major international fraud litigation

27 January, 2022

On Wednesday 27 January 2022, the Court of Appeal (Lady Justice Carr, Lady Justice Simler and Lord Justice Peter Jackson) dismissed the Claimant’s appeal in The Public Institution for Social Security v. Al Rajaan & Others [2022] EWCA Civ 29.

The appeal followed Mr. Justice Henshaw’s judgment in the Commercial Court granting the jurisdiction challenge of several defendants: The Public Institution for Social Security v. Al Rajaan & Others [2020] EWHC 2979 (Comm).

The case concerns one of the most significant pieces of international fraud litigation currently before the English courts and has featured as one of the The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2020. The Claimant is a public institution in Kuwait which operates the Kuwaiti social security and pension scheme and which sought to bring claims in England against 37 separate defendants, including Mr. Al-Rajaan, its former General Director.  The Claimant claims that Mr. Al Rajaan was paid secret commissions totalling some US$847 million over a twenty year period.

The initial jurisdictional challenges were brought by seven separately represented groups of defendants and heard over 4 days in July 2020.  Those defendants were two major Swiss Banks, Banque Pictet and Mirabaud & Cie along with several individuals who were former partners of those banks, and a Mr. Luc Argand, a senior Geneva lawyer who was said to have been involved in the commission arrangements with Mirabaud.  Mr. Justice Henshaw upheld the jurisdictional challenges in full, holding that the claims against the relevant defendants were subject to Swiss jurisdiction under the Lugano Convention.

Following a three-day appeal hearing in December 2021, involving the Court of Appeal’s consideration of the proper scope and application of Articles 6 and 23 of the Lugano Convention, the Claimant’s appeal was dismissed in full.

David Davies QC acted, both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, for the 13th Defendant, Mr. Thierry Fauchier-Magnan, a former senior partner of Mirabaud, instructed by Daniel Lavender of Macfarlanes.

Nathan Pillow QC and Tom Ford acted, both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, for the 14th Defendant, Mr. Luc Argand, instructed by Crispin Rapinet and Oliver Humphrey at Hogan Lovells.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.