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Orb a.r.l. and ors v Ruhan

15th Apr 2016

Orb a.r.l. and ors v Ruhan [2016] EWHC 850 (Comm)

This is a complex and high value multi-party commercial fraud dispute, that was listed for a four-month trial in December 2016.  (It has now been settled.)

James Drake QC, Sarah Martin and James Goudkamp (together with Matthew Ryder QC, Lorna Skinner and Nicholas Gibson, all of Matrix Chambers) acted for the Claimants, the Fifth Party and the Seventh Party (“the Orb Parties”).

Richard Waller QC, Tim Jenns and Michael Ryan appeared for the Defendant, Mr Ruhan.

At a two-day contested hearing in March 2015, Mr Justice Cooke (i) put in place a worldwide freezing injunction up to £67 million over the Orb Parties’ assets; and (ii) ordered the Orb Parties to give disclosure of information and documents supported by a report from an independent accountant (the “March Order”).  The Orb Parties were required to give disclosure by 7 August 2015 but did not do so.

The parties made a number of applications.  The Orb Parties applied for a declaration that the March Order had ceased to have effect, alternatively an order that it be discharged.  Mr Ruhan applied for (i) an order that unless the Orb Parties provided the disclosure required by the March Order, their claim and defence to counterclaim should be struck out; and (ii) variation of the March Order in a number of respects, including (ultimately) seeking a proprietary injunction.  In addition, the Orb Parties sought an order for an adjournment of the determination of the above applications on the basis that Mr Ruhan lacked ‘clean hands’ in respect of his applications.  Mr Ruhan made an application to dismiss this argument summarily, and also resisted the adjournment on various alternative grounds.

The applications were heard before Mr Justice Popplewell at a four-day contested hearing on 14-17 March 2016.  Popplewell J held that the Orb Parties had misled the Court, breached contractual and Court undertakings and refused to recognise the authority of the Court’s orders.  The Judge ruled on the applications as follows:

1. The Orb Parties’ application for an adjournment was dismissed, albeit Mr Ruhan’s application to summarily dismiss the Orb Parties’ unclean hands argument was also dismissed, and the question of Mr Ruhan’s ‘unclean hands’ was set down for trial over five days commencing November 2016.
2. The Orb Parties’ application for an order discharging the March Order was dismissed, and Mr Ruhan’s application for an unless order was granted: the Orb Parties were ordered to provide the disclosure required by the March Order by 22 April 2016, failing which their claim and defence to counterclaim would be struck out.
3. Mr Ruhan’s application to vary the March order was granted in part: the Orb Parties were ordered to give additional disclosure by 22 April 2016, and the Court put in place a proprietary injunction over certain of the Orb Parties’ assets – valued at £41 million – and continued the worldwide freezing injunction with an upper limit of £64 million.

A copy of the judgment may be found here.

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