Unveiled: The Lawyer Top 20 cases for 2023

16 January, 2023

Four 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 2023. 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:

The Federal Republic of Nigeria v Process & Industrial Developments

This dispute between a sovereign state and a BVI company concerns a 20-year gas processing project in the Niger Delta which gave rise to a London-seated arbitration award alleged now to comprise some $11 billion with accumulated interest. The Court is set to consider whether P&ID can enforce the award, which the FRN contends should be set aside under sections 67 and 68 of the Arbitration Act 1996. The FRN alleges that P&ID procured the underlying gas processing contract and the arbitration award arising thereof by a massive fraud on Nigeria and the Tribunal, chaired by Lord Hoffmann.  On 4 September 2020, Sir Ross Cranston granted the FRN extensions of time to bring the challenges and found among other things that there was a strong prima facie case that the contract was procured by bribery and that P&ID gave false evidence to the Tribunal.

  • Listed for 32 days (including four days of pre-trial reading) in the High Court in January 2023.
  • Brick Court’s Mark Howard KC and Tom Pascoe, Twenty Essex’s Philip Riches KC and Tom Ford and Sebastian Mellab act for the claimant, instructed by Mishcon de Reya partners Shaistah Akhtar, Andrew Short and Zachary Seg

The London International Exhibition Centre v Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance

The contested clause is one of the few remaining issues relating to Covid business interruption coverage left unresolved by the Supreme Court in the landmark Financial Conduct Authority test case. In its pro-policy holder ruling handed down in January 2021, the Supreme Court considered diseases clauses relating to losses caused by Covid-19 cases occurring within a specified radius and not those at the premises. ExCeL’s victory at the Commercial Court could unlock coverage for potentially hundreds of thousands of policy holders across the insurance market whose ‘at the premises’ disease clauses remain unpaid. ExCeL’s action is the lead case among six different ‘at the premises’ business interruption lawsuits scheduled for expedited hearings in April, which includes Pizza Express’ £200m insurance claim against Liberty Mutual.

  • Listed for a two week trial in the High Court in April 2023.
  • 7KBW’s Sushma Ananda and David Scorey KC act for the defendant Liberty Mutual, instructed by DAC Beachcroft partner Ian Plumley
  • Jeffrey Gruder KC and Mubarak Waseem instructed by Barings Law act for Claimants in two of the other test cases: Hairlab Ltd and Others v Ageas Insurance Limited and Kaizen Cuisine Ltd v HDI Global SE-UK

Hulley Enterprises, Yukos Universal and Veteran Petroleum v the Russian Federation

The Russian state, the formerly largest oil company in Russia and a $50bn arbitration award from the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). That was the backdrop to the case between Yukos and the Russian Federation when it hit the Commercial Court in 2015. The PCA had awarded the three claimants, former shareholders of OAO Yukos Oil Company, the $50bn following allegations that the Kremlin unlawfully expropriated Yukos’s assets, using tax claims to seize control of the company.

  • Listed for a 3 day trial in the High Court in October 2023.
  • 4 Stone Buildings’ Jonathan Crow KC and David Peters act for the claimants, instructed by Stephenson Harwood partner Ros Prince

Republic of Mozambique v Credit Suisse, Privinvest, VTB Capital and others

The Republic of Mozambique v Credit Suisse International & Ors is a set of 11 Commercial Court proceedings concerning the impact of alleged bribery and corruption on a set of three sovereign guarantees purportedly executed by the Republic of Mozambique with a combined value of c. US$2 billion. The Republic (and other parties) also bring claims for consequential losses, bringing the total value of the claim to above US$5 million. Mixed issues of liability, quantum, state immunity and jurisdiction are due to be heard together at a three-month trial before Mr Justice Knowles in October.

  • Listed for a 3 month trial in High Court in October 2023.
  • Joe Smouha KC, Jeremy Brier KC, Ciaran Keller and Akash Sonecha, Serle Court’s Jonathan Adkin KC and Zahler Bryan, Brick Court’s Richard Blakeley, 3VB’s Ryan Ferro, and Twenty Essex’s Edward Gilmore, act for the claimant, instructed by Peters & Peters partners Keith Oliver, Sarah Gabriel and Jason Woodland.
  • David Davies KC and Howard Kennedy partner Duncan Bagshaw, also instructed by Duncan Kennedy, along with associate Luke Barden de Lacroix, act for the defendant, Ms Maria Isaltina Lucas (the former director of the Treasury and Deputy Finance Minister of Mozambique).

The full list of featured cases can be seen here.