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The Lawyer Reveals its ‘Top 20 Cases’ of 2020

One Essex Court members are involved in seven cases featured in The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases for 2020:

Amjad Rihan v E&Y Global Limited & Ors
The ‘whistle-blower’ proceedings brought by former partner Amjad Rihan in negligence and conspiracy, have generated significant media interest, including coverage in the BBC’s Panorama programme (28 October 2019).  The claim by the audit partner alleges that he was forced out of EY after raising concerns about the audit including money laundering and buying gold from conflict zones.  He sues four EY entities including its global and European businesses.  Daniel Toledano QC, Nehali Shah and Joshua Crow appear for the defendant EY entities instructed by Orrick partner, Simon Willis.  The QBD trial is presently part heard before Mr Justice Kerr.

Tyndaris v VWM Limited
The first major UK case involving artificial intelligence (AI).  Investment manager Tyndaris claims for unpaid fees for access to an AI trading account said to be capable of applying machine learning to real-time news, social media data and other sources, to predict sentiment in the financial markets, with algorithmically-determined stop losses and trailing profit stops to protect the risk-adjusted return of the strategy.  Shortly after VWM’s commencement of trading through the account, its investments peaked at $2.5bn, quickly followed by losses of $22m.  The 4-week Commercial Court trial is listed to commence in April 2020.  Sonia Tolaney QC leads for the claimant instructed by Dechert partner, Adam Silver.

Omers Administration Corporation & Ors; Manning & Napier, Inc. & Anr v Tesco plc
The first group litigation for damages brought under section 90A and schedule 10A of FSMA 2000, flowing from the well-publicised misstatement of profits in Tesco’s accounts.  Two claims (said to exceed £600m) are run together - one by a group of institutional investors represented by Stewarts Law and another by two investors represented by Morgan Lewis & Bockius.  The Financial List trial is presently scheduled to commence in June, concluding in October 2020.  Neil Kitchener QC, Richard Mott and Simon Gilson appear for the claimant group instructed by Stewarts Law partner, Sean Upson.  Laurence Rabinowitz QC, Conall Patton, Michael Watkins and Henry Hoskins appear for Tesco plc instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner, Ian Taylor.

PCP Capital Partners LLP & Anr v Barclays Bank plc
Originally scheduled for January 2018 and stayed pending the outcome of related criminal proceedings ([2017] EWHC 2897, Laurence Rabinowitz QC and Maximilian Schlote), June 2020 finally sees Amanda Staveley’s claim (PCP Capital Partners) open before the Commercial Court.  PCP brings a £1.2bn claim against Barclays Bank plc, alleging deceit in relation to the raising of capital ($3bn) from Qatar during the 2008 financial crisis. The trial is listed for 8 weeks.  Alexander Polley and Oliver Butler are led for the Bank instructed by Simmons & Simmons partner, Colin Passmore.

Municipio De Mariana & Ors v BHP Group
One of the largest claims currently filed before the British courts flows from the collapse of the Fundão dam in Mariana, Brazil.  This group litigation is brought by c.200,000 Brazilians, 25 foreign dioceses and 700 businesses before the High Court in Liverpool.  The claimants sue the mining company following the dam’s collapse in 2015, which caused both tragic loss of life and environmental damage. A substantial, 7 day strike out application is scheduled for June 2020.  Daniel Toledano QC, Nicholas Sloboda, Maximilian Schlote, Stephanie Wood and Veena Srirangam appear for the defendant BHP instructed by Slaughter and May partners, Efstathios Michael and Richard Swallow. 

Raiffeisen Bank International AG v Asia Coal Energy Ventures Ltd and Ashurst LLP
A claim for c.$70m arises out of a Solicitor’s Confirmation given by a law firm to the seller of loans and associated collateral as to certain matters relating to funds in its client account.  It has given rise to an important issue of law as to whether the law firm’s instructions from its client relating to the client account are and remain privileged.  Moulder J held that they were: [2019] EWHC 3 (Comm) and was upheld on (interim) appeal by Lewison, Males and Baker LJJ: [2020] EWCA Civ 11.  The wider dispute, which also involves a dispute between the seller and the buyer, is scheduled for trial before the Commercial Court in July 2020.  David Wolfson QC and Michael Watkins appear for the defendant law firm instructed by Mayer Brown partner, William Glassey.

Public Institution for Social Security of Kuwait v Man Group PLC & Ors
This large-scale fraud will be one of the largest disputes ever heard in the Commercial Court. The Public Institution for Social Security (PIfSS), a public authority that runs the Kuwaiti state social security system and pension scheme alleges it is owed in excess of £600bn as a result of a large-scale fraud by its former director general, Fahad Maziad Rajaan Al-Rajaan. With allegations of bribery and corruption spanning three decades, it is claimed that Al-Rajaan used a series of financial institutions and intermediaries to procure unauthorised secret commissions with the assistance of other defendants.  Kenneth MacLean QC, James MacDonald, Tamara Kagan and Oscar Schonfeld appear for the Pictet defendants instructed by Slaughter and May partner, Deborah Finkler; John McCaughran QC and Douglas Paine appear for the UBP defendants instructed by Dechert partner, Andrew Hearn; and Camilla Bingham QC and Patricia Burns appear for the defendant, EFG Bank AG instructed by Simmons & Simmons partner, Ed Crosse.

The full list of featured cases can be seen here.