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John Wardell QC

Call: 1979    QC: 2002

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

Commercial

John is ranked as a ‘leading silk’ in the Commercial and Chancery Commercial categories in Chambers Global, in Chancery Commercial, Civil Fraud, Commercial Dispute Resolution in Chambers & Partners’ UK edition, and in Commercial Litigation, Company and Civil Fraud in The Legal 500 UK.

His commercial practice is very broad and embraces disputes involving companies, joint venture agreements and partnerships. Many of his cases have an international dimension
and involve allegations of fraud.

Many of John’s commercial cases involve claims for breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty.

Recent cases include:

  • In the Matter of the Torchlight Fund LP (2018). John was brought in as replacement counsel to defend a just and equitable winding up petition brought by activist investors against the General Partner of a private equity fund in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. The principal allegation was that the General Partner was a crook who could not be trusted with his clients funds. At that time, the advice being given was that the case was likely to lose, in which event John’s clients would have lost in excess of AUS$300 million as well as having their reputations destroyed. Judgment has just been given after a 43 day trial spread over the entirety of 2017. The General Partner was completely exonerated. The Judge was so incensed by the conduct of the Petitioners (including representatives of two New Zealand Government agencies) that he insisted on giving judgment even though the case had settled.
  • Grupo Mexico v Garcia (2018). John appeared for the Claimant and successfully argued that a limited partnership that was being used by a fraudster to pursue a claim worth many hundreds of millions in Mexico should be struck off the register. This is now under appeal. If successful on appeal, John’s clients will have a complete defence in Mexico.
  • Bilta v RBS (2018). John acts for RBS in the defence of an £80 million claim brought by liquidators of a number of companies caught up in an MTIC fraud involving carbon credits. The allegation against RBS is that its traders dishonestly assisted breaches of fiduciary duty committed by the directors of those companies and/or that they were knowing parties to fraudulent trading. These allegations are strongly denied by the Bank. Judgment is awaited after a lengthy trial in the summer of 2018.
  • PCP-LLP v Barclays Bank (2018). This is a high-profile multi-million pound claim for deceit against Barclays arising out of the rescue of Barclays at the time of the financial crash. This rescue was orchestrated by the Claimant (John’s client) whose moving force is Amanda Staveley. At the time of the investment, she was assured that her investment group was to receive exactly the same deal as the Qataris, who were existing shareholders and were also participating in the rescue. In fact, as a result of an SFO investigation, it now appears that the Qataris were paid in addition a total of £346 million by way of commission and were loaned the monies to enable them to complete their share acquisition. The SFO is prosecuting the Bank and a number of senior employees. PCP-LLP is claiming over £700 million by way of compensation. The trial has been postponed until October 2019 to allow the prosecution to be completed.
  • Algosaibi v Saad (2018). This was a claim for over US$4 billion brought in the Cayman Islands, by far the biggest fraud claim ever heard that and one of the biggest in any jurisdiction. The claim was dismissed after a trial lasting a year. John has been brought in to try and rectify an injustice in the Court of Appeal which is due to be heard over a minimum period of two weeks in the summer of 2019.
  • Sabbagh v Khoury [2017] EWCA Civ 1120. This is a multi-million dollar claim in conspiracy brought by Ms Sabbagh against her brothers and the Khourys who now control the business founded by her father. This is a construction business worth many billions of dollars which carries on business mainly in the Middle East. After her father’s stroke, the Khourys and her brothers set about misappropriating his assets with a view to depriving him of his rights and his daughter of her inheritance. The conspiracy continued after his death. The Court of Appeal held in 2017 that the claimant had a real prospect of establishing a claim of conspiracy to deprive her of her entitlement to shares in the eighth defendant company against the first defendant. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, further refused a mandatory stay of the proceedings under an arbitration clause and held that the judge had been right to reject the objections to jurisdiction based on the claim being a matter of succession. John was one of a team of three leaders and was responsible for the successful appeal on the merits. He was then part of the team that successfully applied for an anti-arbitration injunction to prevent the Defendants pursuing an arbitration in Lebanon.
  • Takhar v Gracefield Developments Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 147. Supreme Court case to argue an important issue as to whether a litigant who seeks to set aside a judgment obtained by fraud needs to show that he could not have discovered the fraud by reasonable diligence.
  • Acting on claims against a solicitors firm and a trust company for substantial compensation for professional negligence and breaches of trust arising out of the wrongful diversion of trust monies to a new trust structure set up by them for the claimant’s brother in law.
  • Takhar v Gracefield Properties [2014]. Acting on a claim seeking recovery from trustees of a portfolio of commercial properties which they have sought to develop for their own benefit.
  • Zarbafi v Zarbafi [2014]. Acting on a family dispute where properties and other assets have allegedly been utilised contrary to the terms of the trusts on which they were said to be held.
  • Salford Capital Partners v Kenneth Krys [2014]. Acting on a claim against the liquidators of a limited partnership in the BVI concerning their failure to comply with the terms of the partnership agreement relating to the valuation of the partnership’s assets (which are worth over US $1bn).
  • R P Explorer Master Fund v Malhotra [2014]. Acting in the defence of a US $70m claim for damages for conspiracy arising out of a scheme to build an oil refinery in India.
  • Excalibur Ventures LLC v Texas Keystone [2014]. Acting for one of the funders who advanced £13.5 million to support the disastrous claim brought by Excalibur against Texas Keystone.
  • Acting for the Claimant in a $60 million claim arising out of the failure to honour the terms of a share sale agreement relating to the sale of shares in a company which was the ultimate owner of two Russian banks.
  • Matchtrack v Kirschel [2013]. Acting for the Claimant in respect of an unsuccessful joint venture agreement concerning a substantial commercial property in Central London.
  • Apex Global Management Limited v FiCall Limited and Others [2013]. Acting for the Defendants in relation to a multi-million pound shareholders’ dispute between the shareholders of FiCall.
  • Logue v PGGL and the Candy Brothers [2013]. Acting for the Claimant in a claim for damages sustained as a result of a conspiracy whereby the Defendants sought to forfeit deposits that had been paid by the Claimant for an apartment at One Hyde Park, retain the increase in value on that apartment and share in any recovery made in proceedings brought against him in the United States.
  • Stone v National Westminster Bank [2013] EWHC 208. Acting for the Defendant bank in successfully defending a £20 million claim arising out of a Ponzi scheme operated by one of the Bank’s customers.
  • Algosaibi and Brothers Company v Saad Investments Company Limited [2013]. Acting for the Claimant in respect of a multi-billion claim arising out of a fraud perpetrated by Mr Al Sanea.
  • Fortress Value Recovery Fund LLC v Blue Skye Special Opportunities Fund LP [2012]. Acting for one of the Defendants accused of being involved in a complex fraud which involved the diversion of substantial assets in an investment portfolio to a new structure in breach of trust.
  • Tsang v Tsang [2011]. Acting for the former wife of a dollar billionaire, who was being sued by her ex father-in-law for fraud. After objecting to the High Court exercising jurisdiction, John successfully appeared for the wife in parallel proceedings in Singapore.
  • Jenington International v Assaubayev [2010]. Acting for the Defendants who were accused of masterminding a substantial fraud arising out of the sale of gold mines in Kazakhstan.