Civil fraud and asset recovery
We have extensive expertise in acting in fraud litigation and asset preservation and recovery, including in complex commercial fraud cases, both onshore and offshore. Our members include recognised leaders in the civil fraud field and have been involved in cases which have made significant developments to the law in this area.
We act across the full spectrum of civil fraud claims including those based on misrepresentation, breach of duty, conspiracy, and accessory liability and at all stages in bringing or defending a claim. Our work includes:
- freezing, search and disclosure orders (whether against a cause of action defendant or third party)
- receivership orders (pre- and post-judgment)
- committal proceedings (pre- and post- judgment) brought on allegations of contempt
- jurisdictional issues
- all advisory and interim stages
- enforcement, including insolvency proceedings
Our experience in related areas such as company, insolvency, banking and financial services, property and trusts law ensures expert and comprehensive representation and advice.
Rankings and recognition
Wilberforce is ranked as a leading civil fraud chambers in both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. Recent coverage is as follows:
Chambers UK 2021: Wilberforce Chambers houses a strong bench of experienced barristers who are regularly instructed in high-value and multi-jurisdictional civil fraud disputes. The team is noted for its expert handling of cases involving offshore jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands and the BVI, as well as matters arising in Asia and Europe. Members offer expertise in claims stemming from allegations of misrepresentation, conspiracy and breach of duty. Cases involving complex jurisdictional issues and contempt proceedings are also key areas of strength for the set.
The Legal 500 UK 2020: Wilberforce Chambers has ‘some brilliant people with a range of skills‘ and ‘has really built out its civil fraud offering over the past few years and is becoming a serious contender in that space‘. Its members are especially strong in related offshore, trusts, and professional negligence matters, and are praised for being ‘very responsive’. High profile cases include Receivers of Sebastian Holdings v Sarek, Vik & others in which Tim Penny QC led rising star Tim Matthewson on behalf of the claimants. John Wardell QC also achieved a major victory in the Supreme Court for the appellant, Takhar, in Takhar v Gracefield Developments Limited and others.
Chambers UK 2020: Wilberforce Chambers offers a wealth of expertise in civil fraud claims. The set is regularly called upon to act for its clients in complex and high-value disputes involving allegations of breach of contract, deceit, bribery and conspiracy. Members are frequently instructed in both domestic and international disputes, and have experience of acting in matters involving Europe and Asia, as well as several offshore jurisdictions.
The Legal 500 UK 2020: Clients praise Wilberforce Chambers for providing ‘excellent support’ and ‘communication which is honest and proactive so that any capacity issues can be properly managed’. The set is becoming ‘one of the leading sets in the civil fraud arena’ and is also noted for its expertise in overlapping areas, such as offshore disputes.
Recent instructions of note:
- AHAB v SAAD [ongoing]. A multi-billion claim relating to a complex, cross-border fraud before the Courts of the Cayman Islands.
- Meridian Trust v Eike Batista [ongoing]. A case involving the first statutory free-standing worldwide freezing order in Cayman. The first common law case in which a freezing injunction was granted over claims for American treble damages under RICO. Fraud resulted in losses of $5bn, with the lead claim being for $60m.
- Libyan Investment Authority v Societe Generale [ongoing]. Significant concern civil fraud and bribery allegations
- Lemos v Blue Diamond Corporation and Stegasis Corporation [ongoing]. A complex multi-jurisdictional case involving one of Greece’s largest shipping families and their ownership of shares in two Liberian Corporations, which raises multiple conflicts of law issues and matters relating to fraudulent misappropriation of shares.
- Gerald Metals v Frank Timis and others / Gerald Metals v Cape Lambert / Gerald Metals v Red Metal [ongoing]. Gerald Metals, a trading company which brought a claim in deceit and in unlawful means conspiracy (based on s.423 Insolvency Act 1986) against a large number of trustees and individuals. The dispute was very significant and worth around £100 million.
- Libyan Investment Authority v JP Morgan and others . Acted for one of the successful defendants in his jurisdiction challenge – a Libyan businessman against whom a claim had been brought by the Libyan Investment Authority alleging fraud and corruption in relation to transactions that it had entered into with Bear Stearns bank in 2007.
- Takhar v Gracefield Developments . Supreme Court case establishing that a person who applies to set aside an earlier judgment on the basis of fraud does not have to demonstrate that the evidence of this fraud could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence before the earlier trial.
- National Trust Bank v Yurov & others . US$1billion claim for dishonest breach of duty against the shareholder directors arising from the collapse of Russia’s 16th largest bank.
- JSC BM Bank v Kekhman . A claim made by a Russian Bank against a “banana oligarch” for damages for deceit and unlawful means conspiracy in respect of a loan made to a Russian group of companies. The judgment is of note by identifying principles for inferring fraud.
- Pensions Regulator v PAYAE and others . The Pensions Regulator’s first fraud claim to go to trial.