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Gilead Cooper QC

Call: 1983    QC: 2006

+44 (0)20 7306 0102gcooper@wilberforce.co.uk

Commercial

A highly experienced litigator, Gilead has appeared in a number of high-value, high-profile cases in recent years, involving claims against trustees, executors, company directors and partners for breaches of fiduciary duty and civil fraud. His practice has a strong international element, and has appeared in the courts of Hong Kong, the BVI, Bermuda and Cayman.

Gilead’s most recent appearance in the Commercial Court was in Khouj v ACP earlier this year. The case concerned a claim on behalf of the estate of a former Saudi Foreign Minister, in which the executor was seeking extensive disclosure of information relating to substantial investments by the deceased during his lifetime, raising issues of agency and fiduciary duty. The defendants had decided to bring in a new legal team at the eleventh hour, and Gilead was instructed over the weekend with the trial listed to commence the following Monday – in the event, the judge granted an adjournment until the Thursday.

In Jones v Firkin-Flood, Gilead acted for the beneficiaries of a will trust in removing trustees and blocking their resolution to distribute the fund in unequal shares between the family members. The trust had been set up by the beneficiaries’ father, “Dougie”, who was reputed to have been a member of Manchester’s notorious “Quality Street Gang”. Money (the source of which was obscure) had been used to set up accounts in Liechtenstein, and large sums had been invested in a hotel and country club. It was alleged that funds had been diverted to set up a casino business, from which two of the three children were excluded. The case raised issues of dishonesty as well as breaches of fiduciary duties under both company law and trust law.

In Khan v Gany Holdings, the settlor had been a successful businessman who had made his fortune in Pakistan, Malaysia and Hong Kong. He had been highly secretive, and had established a number of opaque corporate and trust structures around the world to hold and manage the family wealth. After his death, his younger son had taken control of the family businesses, to the exclusion of his sister and her family. There were allegations that one of the trustees (a BVI company controlled by the son) had acted dishonestly and had misappropriated assets that rightfully belonged to the estate. Gilead represented the sister and her family at the trial before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the BVI.

C v D concerned a Bermuda Trust set up using funds from a Swiss foundation. One branch of the family alleged that the entire trust (which had been in existence for several decades) had been created fraudulently, in violation of Swiss law, and was void ab initio.

Gilead also acted for the successful Defendants in Slutsker v Haron, a claim by high-profile Russian former politician, Vladimir Slutsker. Mr Slutsker had challenged the transfer of a valuable London property into UK company, whose shares were held by a Cayman settlement. Mr Slutsker and asserted that under Russian joint property rules he was the beneficial owner of a 50% share.

Last year Gilead led James Weale in the Earl of Cardigan’s claims against the trustees of his estate, obtaining an order for the removal of one of the two trustees, together with compensation and the repayment of unauthorised remuneration.

Other notable cases include acting for Robin Birley in his claim against the estate of the late Mark Birley, the proprietor of Annabel’s and other well-known London clubs.

Gilead is ranked as a leading silk in Chambers & Partners, where he is described as “intellectually brilliant and very easy to work with.” He is “methodical and diligent in his approach, and able to argue clearly and concisely.”