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Lawrence Cohen QC

Call: 1974    QC: 1993

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

Commercial

Lawrence is a dynamic and exceptionally able silk whose practice is anything but ordinary.  In contrast to most other silks working in this sector, he only undertakes a few cases each year. Almost all are long running and require intensive work. The cases are fairly described as high profile, very high value, and complex commercial litigation which are often international in nature. His clients are predominantly financial institutions, other large corporates or professionals such as liquidators.

Lawrence has worked on:

  1. Dealing with the problems of an overseas financial institution arising from bad merchant banking transactions and a bad portfolio of investments – confidentiality prevents naming the institution.
  2. A US$85m recovery exercise for a Trinidad financial institution with litigation the Turks & Caicos Islands and USA.
  3. The Algosaibi cases (a fraud estimated to be of over US $9bn) with worldwide litigation in many separate law suits and arbitrations in several countries.

Company

The economic climate has brought company capital structures into focus both domestically and offshore. In addition to the plentiful issues encountered with offshore funds, this year has seen Lawrence at work on the re-organisation of the ownership structure and re-domiciling of a well-reputed bank from one Caribbean jurisdiction to another. Accounting issues dealing with impairment provisioning and recognition of revenue are recurring questions.

L v L QBD  – taking evidence in aid of proceedings in Texas concerning the valuation of very high-value redeemable preference shares in a multi-national oil trading company. This unique type of share in Dutch and Luxembourg companies had characteristics aligning them to bonds for valuation purposes.

Re a Company – Grand Court of Cayman Islands – members’ winding-up petition on the just and equitable ground in a hedge fund which had suspended redemptions and altered its articles with retrospective effect.

Financial Services

Lawrence has in-depth experience in several parts of the financial services sector.  The operation of mutual funds, such as hedge funds and venture capital funds in Cayman and BVI with management in London and New York, are familiar territory as is the operation of banks.

In fund work, liquidity issues and consequent strategies of gating (suspension of redemptions), distributions in kind, side-pocketing and restructuring have all been active topics as have managers, administrators and other professionals’ liability. In other institutions such as banks, examining disastrous investments and devising recovery strategies as well as dealing with the implications on balance sheet strength and liquidity all continue to feature. Lawrence has published articles in both The Times (Business News) and The Financial Times dealing with topics such as unsatisfactory hedge fund valuation practices (e.g. mark to model rather than to market).

This is an area where few decided cases can be mentioned – by the time of reaching the court room (e.g. ISDA Master Agreements modified by Lehmans), attempts to navigate through uncharted legal and commercial waters will usually have failed.

Insolvency

Lawrence Cohen QC has over his years in silk dealt with some spectacular insolvencies which have included BCCI and Maxwell and advising MG Rover in connection with transactions aimed at rescuing their business.

With the exceptions of the well known SphinX funds collapse in Cayman in the wake of the Refco fraud and advising the provisional liquidators in the BVI case allegedly concerning state assets of the Congo, few of the high-profile matters being dealt with can be discussed.