The Lawyer Reveals its ‘Top 20 Cases’ of 2021

3 February, 2021

Five cases involving members of Essex Court Chambers are featured in The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases with proceedings set to be heard in court during 2021. The list includes cases with the most significant sums in dispute as well as disputes involving high profile parties or issues. The cases involving members of Essex Court Chambers are as follows:

Dynasty Company for Oil and Gas Trading v The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq and Dr Ashti Hawrami

A jurisdiction challenge brought by Ashti Hawrami, the former minister of natural resources for the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq. He and the KRG  facE a $1.682bn claim from oil company Dynasty, which says theY should not have stopped it from assuming control of special purpose vehicles operating two oil and gas fields in the region. Dynasty had agreed the deal with Spanish giant Repsol but was refused approval. The overall case spans allegations of civil fraud and conspiracy.

Skatteforvaltningen (the Danish Customs and Tax Administration) v Solo Capital Partners LLP (in Special Administration) and ors

Described as “litigation on a massive scale” (Mr Justice Andrew Baker) with almost 100 defendants listed alongside more than 20 separate legal teams. Underpinning the matter is an alleged £1.5bn fraud, relating to fraudulent applications to claim refunds of dividend withholding tax.

  • Listed for 6 days in March 2021 in the Commercial Court for the Revenue Rule Trial, and for up to 6 weeks in October 2021 for the Validity Trial.
  • Alison Macdonald QC and Luke Tattersall act for the defendants Graham Horn, Anupe Dhorajiwala and Rajen Shah instructed by DWF partner Richard Twomey and director Joshua Fineman.

Stanford International Bank v HSBC Plc

A dispute over a $7bn Ponzi scheme. Liquidators of Stanford International Bank allege HSBC breached its duty and failed to check money was being properly paid out from its accounts. The liquidators believe SIB suffered a loss of £118m when it emerged funds had been paid to existing investors out of subscriptions received from new ones. They argue HSBC should have identified issues with SIB’s accounts by 2008 and frozen them. SIB is now understood to be insolvent by around $5bn, while its owner Robert Allen Stanford was convicted of fraud in 2012 and handed a 110-year sentence. The case is expected to provide clarification for banks on the scope of their duty, as HSBC argues that SIB suffered no loss given its insolvent status.

  • Listed for a 5 weeks trial in the High Court in October 2021.
  • Louise Hutton acts for the defendant, instructed by Eversheds Sutherland partner David Flack

R (Heathrow Airport) v Her Majesty’s Treasury and HMRC

In response to the government withdrawal of the VAT Retail Export Scheme, which had allowed shops in airports to sell goods without charging VAT, Heathrow Airport has teamed up with Global Blue and World Duty Free for a judicial review challenge on the decision. Heathrow argues the UK Government has not taken some considerations into account, adding that the consultation was unfair. Issues at stake include, the supposed benefit to the British economy and impact on the jobs markets, both heightened by CoViD-10 issues.

  • Listed in the High Court for 2 days in February 2021.
  • Lucas Bastin acts for the claimants, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners William Robinson and Deba Das.
  • Stephen Donnelly acts for the defendants, instructed by the Government Legal Department.

Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Limited v Serious Fraud Office, Dechert  and Neil Gerrard and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Limited v Mark Hollingsworth

The ENRC brings its long-running dispute against the Serious Fraud Office, Dechert and Neil Gerrard. The roots of this dispute date back to 2011, when the SFO commenced its investigation into ENRC, who have since made several allegations about how the probe was handled, including claims that Gerrard leaked sensitive documents to the press and the SFO prior to the investigation and that the SFO held private meetings with Gerrard. The defendants have consistently denied the allegations and it has culminated in ENRC issuing a $90m damages claim.

The full list of featured cases can be seen here.