08th Feb 2021
7KBW has two cases listed in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2021
It was no exaggeration in June 2020 when Mr Justice Baker described this case as “litigation on a massive scale”, with almost 100 defendants listed alongside more than 20 separate legal teams. The claim concerns an alleged £1.5bn fraud, relating to applications to claim refunds of dividend withholding tax.
The Kingdom of Denmark is the driving force behind the claim, which has been brought against a wide range of defendant groups, some of whom are alleged to have participated in the fraud, whilst others are accused of negligence or unjust receipt of the proceeds.
As the High Court attempts to manage what could be one of the largest trials ever heard, 2021 will see the hearing of two significant preliminary issue trials. The first, listed for six days in March, involves the rule that the English courts cannot collect the taxes of foreign states for the benefit of foreign sovereigns. The defendants argue that the claim is barred by this rule and should be dismissed. The second trial concerns the ingredients of a valid dividend arbitrage claim, and will help sculpt the full trial should it proceed over the next few years. These two hearings will be the first true tests of this ever-growing claim.
For the defendants
Keir Howie and Julia Gibbon, instructed by Byrne & Partners partner Ben Davies, are acting for a group of alleged fraud defendants.
Commercial Court, The Revenue Rule Trial, 22 March, six days
Commercial Court, The Validity Trial, 25 October, up to six weeks
This case in February is a jurisdiction challenge brought by Ashti Hawrami, the former minister of natural resources for the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG). He, along with the KRG itself, is facing a $1.682bn (£1.24bn) claim from oil company Dynasty, which says the pair 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, among other things.
Hawrami, aided by a WilmerHale team, is challenging the jurisdiction of the English court in a case that will assess in detail the State Immunity Act 1978.
For the claimant, Dynasty
20 Essex Street’s Charles Kimmins QC and Belinda McRae, 7 King’s Bench Walk’s Richard Waller QC and 39 Essex Chambers’ Daniel Benedyk, instructed by Preiskel & Co partner Robert Dougans.
High Court, Commercial Court, 8 February, four days